Dog Day Afternoon (1975) Review

Three men who are want to be bank robbers decided on a plan to hold up a bank, which would be nice and simple. Walk in, take the money and run. It didn’t go to that plan and well into the night they are still negotiating with the pressure mounting.

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Sonny Wortzik is somewhat the leader of the group, although it turns out his smash and grab plan was not exactly fool proof. Along with his friend Sal and Stevie they attempt to rob the First Brooklyn Savings Bank. The plan immediately goes wrong when Stevie loses his nerve and leaves them. Then to make it even worse they have arrived after the cash pick up which leaves only $1100 in the bank.

Accidentally drawing attention to the bank and police surrounding it. Sonny and Sal then take the employees as hostages. Police Detective Sergeant Eugene Moretti arrives on the scene and begins communication with Sonny. His personal life becoming key to trying to get him to talk with his estranged wife and two children not really seeming like much to him. But when Leon turns up and claims that the robbery was to pay for gender realignment surgery it emerged that this person was his lover.

Everything just continues to get worse for the pair with all possibles issues occurring that they must deal with in the moment. An asthma attack for one employee then another a diabetic and this gives them the opportunity to release them to show that they actually had some compassion. Although they never planned for this to go on for 14 hours, with a plane and then transport organised they probably thought that they would get away with it. A rather tragic ending though and Sonny got 20 years in prison.

Dog Day Afternoon was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Sidney Lumet), Best Actor (Al Pacino) Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Chris Sarandon) and Film Editing. It won for Best Original Screenplay.

Al Pacino is truly an unstoppable force in this film and really has to be one of his finest performances. He lays it all on the line is very impressive throughout the whole film, I think at times we can judge Pacino on the levels of going into just shouting and that is not the case in this film. He is pushed to the limits with the emotional turmoil of a man who has got himself into a lot of trouble. John Cazale was brilliant in support as Sal and this brings to a close of watching the five films he starred in. Such a shame his career was cut so tragically short. In this he is an amazing presence. Chris Sarandon also deserves so much credit for his role as Leon and he got an Oscar nomination to confirm his efforts and I am sure this was his first film.

Sidney Lumet brings such style and drama to his films with what seems like so little effort. Managing to build up the tension and really draw a viewer into this world he has created. Always managing to bring out the best of the leading men in his films and this one is no different with Pacino.

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