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Dog Day Afternoon

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

August. 01,1975
| 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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Although it has its amusing moments, in eneral the plot does not convince.


I cannot think of one single thing that I would change about this film. The acting is incomparable, the directing deft, and the writing poignantly brilliant.

Kaydan Christian

A terrific literary drama and character piece that shows how the process of creating art can be seen differently by those doing it and those looking at it from the outside.


This is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a very long time. You have to go and see this on the big screen.


Dog Day AfternoonThe sense of urgency fades away for a brief period of time in its middle act and that's the only weak link in this masterpiece that contains gripping screenplay, brilliant execution and stellar performance working all the way up to the ladder. Sidney Lumet still needs to be a bit strict on editing part but other than that he has done a great job from his side. Al Pacino is as usual, brilliant on portraying this broken real persona and brings out the best of him without any support (he literally is a one man show in this one). Dog Day Afternoon hits hard and fast with amusing perspective that stays true till the last frame along with an intense showdown between the cat and mouse sequences in its last act that always will be the highlight of this feature.


I have a confession to make. As I was watching Dog Day Afternoon for this review, I realized my DVD copy was scratched and it would not play the last half of the movie. But luckily, I have seen this movie before and I am fortunate enough to remember how the movie ended. Both times I watched the film, I enjoyed it very much. Given the talent behind and in front of the camera, that comes to me as no surprise. Sidney Lumet is a very talented director who directed incredible films such as 12 Angry Men and Serpico. Lumet reunites with his Serpico star Al Pacino to create a very fine portrayal of a real-life story about a Brooklyn bank robbery. The film is more subtle and quiet when compared to other Lumet films, but the film has an unexpected lighter tone. The film has some funny lines and I was surprised how much I laughed given the subject matter, but then I realized Lumet was not trying to make a serious film. The thematic issue of gay marriage gave the movie a political edge which also surprised me. I was expecting a straightforward movie about a bank robbery, but I got something more in-depth. There is motivation behind what the characters do and that caused me to sympathize with them, despite robbing a bank and holding people hostage. You may have figured by now, but I really enjoyed this film very much.Believe it or not, but this story is based off real events which occurred at the Chase Manhattan Bank in Brooklyn, New York in 1972. The bank was held up by this gay man named Sonny (Al Pacino) and his dim-witted crime partner Sal (John Cazale) in order to get money to pay for Sonny's partner sex change operation. The manager and tellers agree to cooperate with Sonny, but things go south when Sonny realizes there is not anything to steal because the money has been packed up for the day. When Sonny gets in contact with Police Captain Moretti (Charles Durning), he gets nervous when he realizes the entire bank is surrounded by cops. Now he must negotiate a way to get what he wants without compromising the safety of everyone in the bank.Al Pacino is one of my favorite actors of all-time. He commits to every single role of his, even if the movie stinks. Obviously, this is not a stinker but it is impressive to see Pacino so committed to this role. I loved his performances in the two Godfather movies and Serpico. So it comes to no surprise I am impressed with this performance. This time around he brings an edge of comedy to his performance and it works spectacularly. The scene where he is being live broadcasted and he skips around in happiness telling people he's a star, that was a wonderful but funny scene. John Cazale does a fine job as Sal. I felt Sal's character goes hand-in-hand with John's character in The Godfather, but regardless it was still a fine performance. Charles Durning plays it tough as the NYPD captain as he should because it easily fits his persona. Finally, Chris Sarandon as Sonny's lover Leon does a fine job in his small role-a role that got him nominated for an Oscar.I thought it was interesting about the political angle given to this movie. Gay marriage would not be a major political issues until many years after the release of this film, but it was interesting to see the viewpoint of the movie given how gay marriage was frowned upon during this era. The movie played the sympathy cards for Sonny and Leon and it gave a motivation for Sonny's actions. The movie does not revile Sonny, but instead it makes him a deeply-flawed character.Overall, Dog Day Afternoon is a excellent movie. It has committed performances by everyone, especially by Pacino. Sadly, Pacino still did not receive an Oscar up to this point despite being nominated for every movie he was in until 1975 including this one. Sidney Lumet continues to bring his style into all of his films. I love Lumet because like auteurs like Scorsese and Allen, many of his films are about New York. Each individual brings something to their films about the great city of New York and they make these films even more interesting to watch. I like the way Lumet turned the film from just an ordinary crime film to a film that is intelligent, creative, and still fun to watch. This is another impressive film on the resume for Sidney Lumet and Al Pacino.My Grade: A


After text assuring you that this is in fact "based on a true story", the opening montage of "Dog Day Afternoon", comprised of footage of real Brooklyn inhabitants and locations, displays exactly what the title describes: a regular, hot summer day as everyone goes about their daily routine. Elton John's "Amoreena" is the only song that plays during the entire film, and it is played over this montage of Brooklyn to set a casual tone that is upset by the sudden enacting of a bank robbery. At first it is startling as Sal pulls his gun out on the manager of the bank and Sonny frantically lines everyone up on the wall, threatening them with his rifle, but soon enough it isn't hard to tell he didn't plan much out, as one of the members of his gang of three quickly runs off afraid, leaving just Sonny and Sal. Then, mostly through his own ineptitude, Sonny accidentally attracts the attention of a man across the street and soon enough the police are surrounding the bank, along with a crowd of bored bystanders that watch the event as if it were entertainment meant for them.Soon the media gets a hold of this story and people begin treating Sonny like a celebrity and everything he says is given more importance, with people either viewing him as a people's champion or an evil villain, shifting their perception of him to fit their view of the world, idolizing him even when he doesn't want it. But by bringing us inside the bank, this film allows us to see Sonny and Sal as the scared, desperate, genuine human beings they were. We learn that despite the extreme measures these people are ultimately trying to help who they think needs it, even insinuating both Sal and Sonny may be suffering from their experience in the war. That doesn't make them good people, but the fact that their robbing a bank also doesn't make them bad people, and it is so much easier to sympathize with Sonny due to Al Pacino's fantastic performance, showcasing all of Sonny's fear, doubt, anxiety, and hope during this ordeal. John Cazale brings a surprising amount of deadpan humor to Sal while never feeling like it is betraying the realism of the film. For that matter, all of the performances in this film pull you deeper into it, to the point where you can almost forget your watching a movie and not the real people involved in this event.Despite taking place almost entirely in one location, the film is far more visually interesting than many films that I have seen that take place in a plethora of places. Lumet rarely resorts to the standard and boring shot/reverse shot when shooting conversations, often keeping the camera mobile (even if its subtle movement), blocking the scenes to show the relationship between characters at that moment, and occasionally having multiple stories being told on screen at once.Yet, although the film never feels overtly cinematic, in the end I began to root for Sonny and Sal, and began to build expectations based on my sympathy for this character, but, just like those who saw him on their television at home, we forgot that this was a true story and not happening as a fantasy, and once he leaves the cameras, the reality of the situation hits him and us rather suddenly.


Even before the midpoint I was heading to IMDb for a 10 on 10 rating. Tons of bank robbery movies out there and this is just mind-blowing. Unique, funny, natural (thanks to the casting and performance) and awesome till the end. I could not get over Cazale's dialogue of not wanting to have a smoke. He may have had cancer during that time. He died three years later of lung cancer. Great performance by him too.I can't thank Sidney Lumet and the writer enough for the experience I had gone through while watching this masterpiece. Fact indeed is incredibly stranger than fiction. I am watching for the first time and could not seriously believe the movie was made in 70s. I will watch again to enjoy, and learn. In our language, we call it "Otha, maasu!"