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Dog Day Afternoon

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

September. 21,1975
| Drama Thriller Crime

Based on the true story of would-be Brooklyn bank robbers John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Naturale. Sonny and Sal attempt a bank heist which quickly turns sour and escalates into a hostage situation and stand-off with the police. As Sonny's motives for the robbery are slowly revealed and things become more complicated, the heist turns into a media circus.


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I love this film. It was one of the first I ever saw when I really started getting into movies. It's got incredibly strong performances from the great Al Pacino and the late John Cazale (What a great catalog of films he had in his tragically short career) they're both amazingly gifted people. It's also still incredibly provocative, the idea of gay marriage is still fairly stigmatized, let alone the complex dynamics at work in Dog Day Afternoon. Perhaps what bothers me most about this film, though, is the fact that it's always bouncing in and out of the 250th spot of the top 250, it's so good! It deserves a permanent spot!

Antonius Block

I love the wonderful sense of New York in the 1970's that this film gives us. The characters, dialog, and shots on location in Brooklyn are all highly authentic. It's Al Pacino who really makes the film though, with a performance that is captivating and endearing. He's bumbling and ill-prepared as the leader of this bank heist, yet he's cagey and street-wise as a New York rat. We first get a glimpse of how amateurish these criminals are when one of the three bails early on in the robbery, which is a comical moment. We also smile at Pacino's handling of the situation. He realizes the importance of the hostages he suddenly finds himself holding, but far from being heavy-handed, he tries to be decent with them. He whips the crowd up into an anti-establishment frenzy by shouting "Attica!", throwing wads of money into the air, and paying for pizza delivery. He gets into a shouting match with a police sergeant (Charles Durning). He talks to his wife, mother, and transgender lover (Chris Sarandon), and each conversation is touched with pathos, and fantastic. To his mother he says "I'm a fuck-up and I'm an outcast. If you get near me you're gonna get it. You're gonna get fucked over and fucked out." It's the outcast underdog that we find ourselves rooting for.I love the simple acceptance of his sexuality, which is incidental and doesn't devolve into some type of stereotype - well ahead of its time. Director Sidney Lumet shows the seamy side of New York, but at the same time, its humanity. The characters are blunt, but understanding of one another when they simply say what they want. The relationships in this tense stand-off are fascinating. I also liked how Lumet gets us into the story immediately. We learn the backstories and characters of the criminals, including Pacino's henchman (John Cazale) gradually, and in little moments, such as finding out he fears their escape plan because he's never been on an airplane before. The film works as both a hostage drama and as a character study. It may be a teeny bit too long at 125 minutes, but has held up well over the years, and is definitely worth watching.

George Wright

I was delighted to get Dog Day Afternoon as a Christmas gift. I still watch DVDs and thank goodness for them. Other than TCM, there is only a slim chance of viewing this movie on television. Finally getting to see the movie and its star Al Pacino was a bigger treat than I expected. Watching this robbery/hostage drama made me feel like I was right there minute by minute as the story unfolded. Sidney Lumet, a director of so many great movies set in New York, knew the territory. The movie is set in Brooklyn in 1972 and it captures the squalor and the mood of the working class neighbourhood. At the time, New York was dealing with crime, bankruptcy, racial strife and the loss of faith in government. Pacino, playing Sonny, is an unemployed Italian-American in a failing marriage. Part of the story is an alliance he builds with neighbours who cheer for him as he is surrounded by police, FBI, and media reporters. John Cazale plays the buddy Sal and Charles Durning is the seasoned police chief caught in a highly charged environment between the police and a crowd of rabble rousers cheering on the hostage takers. The full cast is great. Glad I finally saw this movie, which I can now add to the many other great movies I've seen from the 1970's. Highly recommend.


(Flash Review)This film captures Pacino in his fiery youth and range as an actor. He portrays a kind-hearted bank robber needing money to give to his male partner for an operation. This film is a comedy of errors and poor decisions. Nothing goes right even though Pacino has put some planning into this. Awash in the middle of the grimy and drab 1970's styles as well as the hot day in the city, this adds to the awkwardness of the robbery plan. Pacino's acting is emotional and rich and the story unfolds with some solid surprises. A must for Pacino fans.