Dog Day Afternoon

"Extraordinary"

Dog Day Afternoon Review


Attica! Attica!

I'd say they don't make 'em like Dog Day Afternoon anymore, but, you know, they sure do try to. Bank robbers under fire, hostage negotiations, panic in the streets. Why, moviedom is littered with films like Heat, Mad City, The Negotiator... some good, some bad.

But modern cinema's template for the bank-robbery-gone-wrong flick is this one. What we have is a hero in desperate need of money, an astute student of how banks operate, and a deep, dark secret that will help to ruin his plans. Media circus ensues.

This of course is a quite faithful version of a true story, which happened in Brooklyn in 1972. If on the off chance you don't know why John Wojtowicz (here called Sonny Wortzik, played by Al Pacino) needed all that cash, I won't reveal it here. But here's the gist: Sonny and pal Sal (John Cazale, best known as Fredo from The Godfather) hop into a New York bank branch and intend to abscond with their haul, quick. But things immediately go wrong. Their third crew member can't take it and abandons the heist. And while Sonny effectively keeps everyone away from the alarms and from giving him the fake money (he worked in a bank for awhile), he can't keep the guy across the street from calling the cops, who are outside the bank before Sonny can make his getaway.

What follows is a fairly standard negotation (with Charles Durning the head, semi-oblivious cop), followed by a media zoo. And it's here where Dog Day Afternoon turns into something unexpected. Sonny is a working-class hero who panders to the crowd by throwing cash into the air and screaming the unforgettable "Attica!" at them -- reminding the onlookers of the atrocities committed not by criminals but by those who judge them.

As time wears on (the ordeal lasted about 12 hours), so do Sonny's nerves. Pacino -- who earned an Oscar nomination for his work here (he understandably lost to Jack Nicholson for Cuckoo's Nest) -- gets as frazzled as Sonny must have, sweating and gibbering and barely keeping it together. And yet at the same time he deeply cares for his hostages, whom he knows have nothing to do with his financial crisis. Midway through the movie Pacino is already a sweaty, crazy-eyed mess, and he looks like he's about to snap. (In fact he did, and had to be hospitalized for exhaustion. You'd never believe the movie was shot in the dead of winter and not on a "dog day afternoon.")

Today Dog Day Afternoon is an unabashed classic, a template by which other movies are based and a formula which is periodically tweaked and refined. There are few things you can complain about in Dog Day -- a second act that relies on a few too many variations of the same "the cops are scheming" bit, and that's about it. But Pacino's fiery performance and Sidney Lumet's perfect direction does more than create a great crime movie. It captures perfectly the zeitgeist of the early 1970s, a time when optimism was scraping rock bottom and John Wojtowicz was as good a hero as we could come up with.

Now available on a two-disc DVD set, the film includes commentary from Lumet and an extensive making-of retrospective, commemorating the film's 30th anniversary.



Dog Day Afternoon

Facts and Figures

Run time: 125 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 21st September 1975

Box Office Worldwide: $46.7M

Distributed by: WARNER BROTHERS PICTURES

Production compaines: Warner Bros., Artists Entertainment Complex

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Fresh: 35 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 8.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Martin Elfand

Starring: as Sonny, as Sal, as Det. Sgt. Eugene Moretti, as Leon, James Broderick as Sheldon, William Bogert as TV Anchorman, Penelope Allen as Sylvia, Sully Boyar as Mulvaney, Beulah Garrick as Margaret, as Jenny, Sandra Kazan as Deborah, as Miriam, Amy Levitt as Maria, John Marriott as Howard, Estelle Omens as Edna, Gary Springer as Stevie, Carmine Foresta as Carmine, as Murphy

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.