Dog Day Afternoon (1975) Poster

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My Ten Commandments of Dog Day Afternoon! ;-)
Asa_Nisi_Masa226 May 2005
I've watched this film for the third time in a few years last night. Instead of writing a straight review, I'd like to jot down ten thoughts just off the top of my head concerning this exquisite movie:

1) Watching this film will change forever your perception of the bank heist genre, making you question the contrived cinematic conventions these films usually make use of.

2) The source of this film's paradoxical and/or farcical elements spring from life itself, not from film or pre-existing cinematic conventions. Sometimes, the absurdities of life are so great, they dwarf those included in any form of fiction. Without even trying to make that point, this film captures that concept beautifully.

3) Its tone in relation to the homosexual theme is ahead of its time. In fact it's ahead of OUR time, even, in hardly making an issue out of it at all - it just IS.

4) It captures the climate of the 70s in a manner so sober, you'll remember its unshowy yet authentic feel forever.

5) Lumet's film brings to life the concept of the distorting lens of the media and how different groups with different agendas will turn an outlaw into a hero, with far more efficiency than Oliver Stone's brash, bloated, childish and repetitive Natural Born Killers.

6) Watching this film will illustrate to the younger generations exactly why Al Pacino has earned himself the legendary status he probably no longer would deserve with his performances of the last 10 years alone. **SPOILERS**: Just watch those last ten minutes of him handcuffed against the bonnet of a car, where he doesn't say a word, but speaks volumes with his eyes and his soul just oozing out of every frame at the end of the movie; you'll remember those eyes for as long as you live!

7) Watching this film, you'll realise that firing a gun-shot is a BIG DEAL in real life, and that other films make too much use of gun fire in a highly contrived way.

8) All that tension deriving from pointed guns unable to fire a shot OR move away… you realise Tarantino must've taken notes sometime along the way.

9) No genre is old or done too many times before if it's handled with this amount of freshness, inspiration and talent.

10) Watching Dog Day Afternoon for the third time has filled me with the same amount of wonder at the power of truly inspired but unobtrusive film-making as it did first time round.
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great character study and a masterful actors' showcase
kwongers18 May 2005
Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" is one of the most highly enjoyable and wildly funny movies I've ever seen - smart, sharp, complex, witty (and often quotable) dialogue, and superbly acted. Al Pacino stars as Sonny, an optimistic loser who decides to hold up a bank with his friend Sal (played by the late, great John Cazale) to get money for his lover Leon's sex-change operation.

The film is only worked around a few sequences, and may seem overlong to some, but it works excellently because it is held together by the fantastic acting. Al Pacino is astounding as Sonny, and his work here even eclipses the excellent work he did as Michael Corleone in "The Godfather" (and that's saying something, because I adore that movie and his portrayal). Pacino has the facial tics and the energy and the wide-eyed optimism down pat, and his performance is extremely engaging and entertaining. Take, for example, his scene where he rouses up the crowd against the police by chanting, "Attica! Attica! Put your f---ing guns down!" A lesser actor would have made it insipid, but Pacino makes it oddly poignant and hilarious at the same time. (And he was robbed of his Oscar for his role.) The late John Cazale is also superb as Sal, the dopey-eyed follower, the quiet laid-back calm to Pacino's maniacal energy. It's a less flashier role, but Cazale still brings on all the laughs, especially in his deadpan delivery of the line, "Sonny, they're saying there are two homosexuals in here...I'm not a homosexual."

Frank Pierson won an Oscar for his script for a reason - the dialogue is hilarious, sharp, and witty. Many of the lines in this movie are extremely quotable (and you can check some of them out under "memorable quotes"). This is intelligent writing, in the sense that you will laugh and be moved at the same time.

Great movie! It belongs in your VHS or DVD collection. 10/10
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Empathic masterpiece
apparentlyblue19 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This high-tension thriller captures the true events of one summer afternoon when accomplices Sonny (Pacino) and Sal (Calzale) walk into a Brooklyn bank, and rob it.

Of course not all goes to plan. An hour later they're still inside and the bank is surrounded. Cops, media, crowds of fans and the FBI are each hanging to Sonny's every word – and why? Because he has 9 hostages as pawns, a bank as his board and all the time in the world to think up a strategy. Inside the bank however is a different story. You can't help but sympathise with Sonny (due to Pacino's terrific performance) as the first-time bank robber who's unprepared, out of his depth, and just trying to think up a way out. Even the audience begin to feel the effects of Stockholm Syndrome as Pacino's character gains our affections. The 'villain who's a nice guy at heart' could have been disastrously cliché but Pacino's portrayal is nothing short of brilliance. Even Sal with his morbid disposition is magnetising as his childlike innocence shines through. Calzale was wonderfully cast as this awkward accomplice, wordlessly following Sonny. A huge success combining the skills of Lumet with the talent of Pacino for the second time in Pacino's best role yet. A true story that's compelling and tragic but most of all tangible – and that's what makes it so powerful.
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Pacino's legend.
ChiBron21 February 2005
A brilliant movie, and a mesmerizing Al Pacino. If u thought he was spectacular in GF I, II, and Scarface....then just watch him in Dog Day Afternoon. Quite simply one of the greatest performances in movie history. Definitely my favorite. The depth with which he plays Sonny is such a treat to watch that I lost count of how many times he left me in AWE. There's this indescribable nervous energy to his performance that there's no way he'll leave u NOT feeling sorry for Sonny.

Sadly, for some reason this movie is kinda forgotten when discussing Al's greatest movies/performances. That's because not many people have watched it. So please, if u consider yourself a movie fan, then go rent DDA and watch a fine movie with the legendary Al Pacino performing his art at the absolute peak of his career.
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Al Pacino is brilliant
rbverhoef13 June 2003
'Dog Day Afternoon' tells the true story of Sonny (Al Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale). These two guys went into a bank in 1972 in Brooklyn to rob it. They could have been out in five minuted but things went terribly wrong. Instead of a robbery it became a hostage situation. And a media circus as well.

From the first second you will be totally in the movie. Afterwards I wanted to write my review and I was not able to remember how the music was, if there was any. It says something about how much the movie grabs you. The first part is very funny, I laughed a lot of times. The second part is more a drama and a thriller. Great director Sidney Lumet creates a certain atmosphere for the movie that is just right. Pacino in one of his best performances is surrounded by a great supporting cast. He was nominated for an Oscar but didn't win it. He lost it to a guy named Jack Nicholson in a movie called 'One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest'. The chances were probably fifty-fifty and the Oscar went to the better movie, I have to admit that. Still, one of the best performances I have ever seen. With any other actor this movie was a nice one, with him it is a great one.
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Pacino and Lumet at their best!
Hermit C-21 June 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Al Pacino has portrayed some memorable characters in some classic movies like 'Serpico,' 'Scent of a Woman,' 'Donnie Brasco' and the three 'Godfather' Films. 'Dog Day Afternoon' and Sonny Wortzik belong high on that list.

As the movie opens, Sonny and his two-man gang are nervously waiting outside a Brooklyn bank which they intend to rob. Sonny has a plan all worked out, but after the robbery begins, it quickly unravels. Not the least dismaying development is that the bank is almost out of cash. Shortly after this revelation, police begin to arrive in numbers that would be able to lay siege to a small country (Wyoming, maybe?) This sets up a hostage situation that lasts the afternoon and late into the night.

One might think this setting might make things a little claustrophobic but director Sidney Lumet has handled this problem before; witness his film 'Twelve Angry Men.' The goings-on in the bank itself are fascinating as the moods and relationships of the hostages and their captors develop and change over the course of the long day. Out on the street the crime scene immediately turns into a circus with thousands of onlookers straining at police lines, news media doing everything they can to get close to the story, and a new busload of police arriving every few minutes.

Great performances are all over the place here. This is a tour-de-force for Pacino, even by his standards, as the bungling crook who has instantly become the biggest media star in the city. Sonny may have blown the first role, but he shines in the second. One of Pacino's "Godfather" brothers, John Cazale is excellent is the less-flashy role as Sonny's partner Sal, definitely not the brains of this operation. Events are soon beyond Sal's comprehension and his subtle performance is wonderful. Charles Durning is super as police lieutenant Moretti who works as hard as he can to keep the situation from spinning totally out of control. He's juggling desperate fugitives in the bank, a crowd growing crazier and crazier, aggressive newspeople, and some of his own cops who are ready to end this thing with a bang. When the FBI shows up, the agent in charge (James Broderick) doesn't even say hello to Moretti. He cooly assesses the situation and decides their plan of action, and from that moment on there is a grim air of fatalism hanging over Sonny and Sal.

There are more twists and turns we won't go into here. This is a great work by Pacino, Lumet, and most of the other actors in the film. I loved it.
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D Day for Pacino
MovieAddict201625 February 2004
By the time Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" came around he had already learned to let Al Pacino loose. Forget the holdbacks of "Serpico"; here we get a glimpse into the real Al, the actor who would bring Tony Montana to life in the years to come and the same man who provided Michael Corleone with such heartfelt warmth that was lacking in some of his lesser characters.

There's essentially the Al Pacino as an actor and the Al Pacino as a character, and here he's the character, and it works splendidly. Al Pacino the actor comes into play when he is given a recycled script and a talentless director, which has been happening a lot lately, although fortunately his comparison, De Niro, has been lucky enough to generally avoid these blunders of older-age film-making.

This is based on a true story, like "Serpico," only it's better and more involving. It connects with the audience more than "Serpico" because it doesn't jump through the same old hoops; it goes for the long trek and comes off better than it would have had the team behind it been lazy. The clichés are gone and the originality creeps in early on. Watch Pacino indulge himself in character and let the plot sink in. It's more touching than it seems at first.

Pacino is Sonny Wortzik, a Brooklyn man who takes a bank hostage in order to pay for his "wife's" operation. The wife is actually Leon Shermer (Chris Sarandon who was Oscar-nominated for this, his first role in a mainstream film), Sonny's gay lover who doesn't have the money for a sex operation.

The bank robbery was going to be what one of classic cinema's greatest bad guys once described as a quick "in and out," but Sonny gets held up inside the bank and soon he's all over the news and police are standing outside the building with guns drawn. It's like Denzel's movie only better and more original. Oh, and true. This one actually happened and we can tell.

Sonny's partner in crime, Sal (John Cazale), is worried that he'll be treated as a homosexual by the media outside. His fretting is comic relief and one of the connections between the film and the audience. Charles Durning is the frustrated cop handling the situation. His performance is as subtly convincing as Cavale's.

Pacino's performance is exceedingly excellent, manic and energetic. He'd display this same talent in "Scarface" again eight years later; only he would be bashed by the critics for going over-the-top. (Although they really just had problems with the excessive profanity and violence, just like Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" will soon become a well-known classic and people will laugh when they hear that someone once called it the most violent film ever made.)

There's also one of the best scenes of all time in this movie that rivals Montana's Last Stand in "Scarface" or the Baptism Scene in "The Godfather," which involves Sonny speaking on the phone to his "wife," carefully concealing his motive from any listeners nearby. Watch Pacino delve into character here and you're immediately hooked. We like his character because he seems real and Pacino makes him real, and that's why this will go down as one of the best tour de force performances of all time.

Is this Hollywood trying to ease our culture onto homosexuality and sex change operations? Is Hollywood trying to gradually introduce us to gay characters in the hope that the uptight American families will be increasingly invaded by the images of gay men? No. This is Hollywood showing us a true story, regardless of the homosexuality. Pacino could be playing a frustrated postal worker and it would still work because it all settles down to the fact that the suspense and dramatics of the movie affect us, not the background of its characters.

Sarandon's Oscar nomination was more than worthy; here he displays the smarmy talent that would shine through in his characters in the years to come. Prince Humperdink from "The Princess Bride" is equally memorable but less realistic. Here he seems more real, which is good for this film and would have been quite bad for "Bride." We don't like real characters in fantasy tales, do we?

Lumet, who ruined "Serpico" with his bad editing, out-of-place music, clichéd dialogue/events and unnecessary scenes, directs "Dog Day Afternoon" with style and flair and good pacing and a surprisingly heartfelt sense of emotion and care. This isn't exactly a good example of a perfect motion picture but it's pretty close.
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Another Masterpiece from the Golden Age of American Cinema
Rathko20 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
During the late sixties and into the seventies, the bank heist seems to have become a metaphor for the counter culture rebellion. Bank robbers were no longer the villains, but the heroes, fighting against the capitalist establishment like an urban Robin Hood. Dog Day Afternoon is part of that tradition.

Al Pacino is, as ever, brilliant. He is able to bring charisma, charm and vulnerability to the character of Sonny Wortzik in nothing more than a way of walking, or the way he holds a phone. Troubled, insecure, confused, Sonny makes for a lousy bank robber. And yet, when he steps from the relative safety of the bank building and into the street, before a hundred waiting armed police, he changes completely. He becomes a strong, proud, prowling voice of the working class, goading the police, riling the gathered crowd. In referencing the prison massacre at Attica in 1971, he becomes a voice for the urban poor, and it is a powerful and raging voice that contains the potential for victory and success, even when you know it is doomed.

An incredibly powerful work, very much of its time, and all the better for it. The 1970's was a decade when major studios hired actors for their talent, not their looks or teen appeal. When major studios hired writers proud to take on sensitive political and social issues. When major studios financially backed and strongly promoted movies that mattered and said something. Dog Day Afternoon is the product of that system and as such, could never be made today.
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A spark called Pacino
SoHo12 March 2005
It was so freshening and attractive to see His Majesty, Mr. Al Pacino, in this breathtaking movie of 1970s. The first thing that a discerning eye would notice throughout the film is the undying uniqueness of Pacino's originality. This was just another movie destined to reassuring viewers of Al's status of an icon. The movie itself is endearing and entertaining. Though the movie is supposed to appear like a bank robbing, and in a sense it is, but deep in the heart robbing is simply a way to achieve a totally different goal, of course other than money! It is about affection and mutual caring. It's about what situations a person is ready to embark into in order to show how much he cares for another one. And I guess this is the point of the whole movie, which is stylistically decorated with dozes of sarcasm and pleasantry with sporadic undertones of bravery. The characters are all innocent which innocence seems to relate them to each other. What I deem as very courageous here are the thematic elements, homosexuality. I guess the time when the movie was made the society had still been ruled by prejudiced mentalities that could really ruin this innocuous piece of art. For this, I praise the very daring Sidney Lumet, one of my favorite directors. 10/10
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Another Five-Star Film From the 70s.
tfrizzell14 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Outstanding character-study that is unique, interesting, highly-unconventional and definitely brilliant in every way. Two dim-witted bank robbers (Oscar-nominated Al Pacino and the late John Cazale) decide to rob a New York City bank on a summer day in the early-1970s. The robbery is to be cut-and-dry, but nothing goes as planned. Instead of getting away with a load of money, there is only a miniscule amount as the money was transported away earlier in the day. As Pacino tries to burn bank records, a small fire is noticed outside the bank and total chaos ensues. Now the bank is surrounded by the police and the FBI. Charles Durning and James Broderick are among the officials outside the bank as they attempt to negotiate with Pacino to get the bank's employees out safely. It is learned that Pacino is involved in a homosexual relationship with Chris Sarandon (Oscar-nominated) and that his main goal was to steal his share of the money to get Sarandon a sex-change operation. The nervous Cazale is more worried that the media will think he is homosexual than anything else. The film is dark in many ways, very light-hearted and funny in other ways, but always dramatic and tense. As the clock ticks, the realization occurs that this will not end well for the robbers. Sidney Lumet's Oscar-nominated direction is sharp throughout. Based on actual events, "Dog Day Afternoon" is another great winner from the 1970s, Hollywood's second Golden Age. 5 stars out of 5.
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Brilliant, Funny, Touching Film.
yearspew7 January 2005
Personally, this is one of the most touching films I've seen.

The acting is superb, both Al Pacino and John Cazale deliver outstanding and memorable performances as the unexperienced bank robbers Sonny Wortzik and Sal.

I should highlight the late John Cazale's performance of Sal, a character that says more with his face than he does with dialogue. Perhaps the most realistic character ever portrayed on film.

Al Pacino as usual delivers a great performance as was nominated for an Academy Award playing the role of Sonny.

This is a very entertaining film, filled with humor, social issues and moral issues, definitely a must-watch.
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A Definite Masterpiece
jzappa2 October 2007
What transfixes me throughout every scene of this sinewy, offbeat film is the extraordinarily pragmatic realism of the hurtles Sonny and Sal confront inside the bank. Not even twenty minutes into the film, we find we're already seeing things absolutely no other crime film has ever included that are astonishing in their dramatic persuasiveness. The head teller and the bank manager picking apart Sonny's plan with him. One clerk's husband calls and asks what time the robbers will be through so he knows if he has to cook for himself or not. While ordering the bank manager to help him block the back entrance by moving a big desk, Sonny asks offhand why he'd hire a diabetic as a guard, and is told in ordinary person-to-person terms what a guard's salary is and why poor old Howard has that job.

And when does Mulvaney the bank manager, played by captivating unknown character actor Sully Boyar, tell hostage-taker he'd like to see his family again but if someone must be taken, take him? When he's helping his captor move a big desk to block the back. They sound like regular working urbanites so caught up in the daily grind of city life that they might as well be making small talk in an elevator. Later, the phone rings, Sonny picks up, it's a sicko telling him to kill 'em all. Sonny hangs up after four seconds, moving on. The female tellers sit and sweat while giggling about the same silly things---"He said the f-word." "Well, I'm a Christian and my ears are not garbage cans."---in the thick of a hostage situation and a media circus. Poignant, real.

Every nuance of Pacino's performance is incredibly realistic. He practically possesses the audience, as we can begin to expect certain things from him and care about him because he's played by an actor who completely subsists as him. At points when characters speak of him off-screen, speaking of things that we are surprised to hear about him, that take us aback and color his image, Pacino has prepared the size for those turning points to fit in. His improvised scenes are exceptional as well, and are in fact some of the most riveting, nail-bitingly intense scenes in the entire film. In such scenes, he is matched by the great actor Charles Durning and Chris Sarandon's becoming fulfillment of his role.

Indeed, this is by far Durning's most riveting performance. He works so well here because in shouting matches with Sonny, he looks and sounds entirely his age, not a movie character. He's fat, middle-aged, tired, just as surprised as everybody else. He runs short of breath, trying desperately to keep up with the pressure cooking higher all around him. As Det. Sgt. Eugene Moretti, Durning epitomizes the thankless job of a police officer more candidly and perfectly than any other movie cop I've ever seen. One of this stunning succession of brilliant scenes is the first time Sonny emerges to talk face-to-face with Moretti in the street, which begins with a protracted pin-drop silence and slowly, steadily, invisibly culminates in deafening, ear-splitting chaos.

Lumet opens the film with a montage of city scenes in NYC with a good getting-up-in-the- morning song like Elton John's Amoreena and with the same indifference ends up on Sonny, Sal and their friend waiting outside a bank in a car, an image that just happens to continue. This is a great way to demonstrate the it-could-happen-anywhereness. Lumet's overall direction of the film is beautiful, indicative once again of the masterful mainstay of cinema in the 1970s. The climactic final ten minutes are ruthless in their steadily unraveling, almost unbearably intense tragedy. It's not only one of the most effective uses of sound to create drama I've ever seen, but everything concludes exactly as it would in reality.
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It's just a great movie!
royal_31928 February 2005
I've seen this movie and for me it's Al Pacino at his best! The movie has a very simple premise, two guys rob a bank, but everything that can go wrong does. In the beginning the women who work in the bank are afraid, but once the situation escalates into a sideshow, some the women become comfortable with the situation. Basically, the entire movie is in the bank and all types of comedy and drama surrounds it. This is Al Pacino early in his career and for anyone who hasn't seen the movie, I definitely recommend it. Just keep in mind between all the madness you see in the film that this is a true story, and very entertaining!
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one of those movies that, in a strange way, is almost TOO good
Quinoa19841 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
We've seen this story before, but then again maybe not. This is the attitude that director Sidney Lumet takes (as he did with films like 12 Angry Men and Serpico, the later also starring Al Pacino) with Dog Day Afternoon. Bank robbery films are a staple in cinema since The Great Train Robbery filmed in 1903. However this story (not even saying based on a true story, just saying 'this is a true story' is enough) is set in 1972, and filmed a couple of years later, at a time when attitudes in society were changing, as was storytelling. Lumet here could get away with things he couldn't get away with if he tried this in the 50's; with unapologetically homosexual (but truthful is the key) characters, one of them the lead character; surprises that add to the unconventionality of the style of the film; and an ending that will keep you guessing. Lumet did a lot of good with this movie, and in a small way some not so good; people would look at many bank-robbery pictures that would come after this and size them up to this, as it was almost transparently influential (the 'Attica, Attica' tirade is something a child knows years before he actually sees the film).

But its the honesty in the truth of the story and problems of the main characters, and in fact the lead up to the robbery and the (unsuccessful) robbery has truth out of it. It is manipulative in a sense, as it is so truthful artifice is almost excluded entirely from the picture. Take when Sonny (Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale) first whip out their guns in the bank. Their friend can't take it and wants out. This is a great moment, and the film has them scattered about. In some ways these great parts and scenes make up for the fact that beneath it all is a story that we have seen too many times (the robbers faced with intense media attention, wanting a plane to take the hostages, etc), or maybe not; maybe one has to put the film into context of the period. But a scene, for another example, when Sonny talks to his 'friend' on the phone. This is one of those moments where Pacino is of course as always 'Pacino', but also totally immersed in the character and the situation. Lumet lets this play for painfully real results.

Dog Day Afternoon is one of Lumet's grittiest successes, as he takes the city he's made most of his films in, New York, and gives it the right tone, inside the bank and out, for this story of eventuality to unfold. The opening montage, with an Elton John song in the background, really has little relevance to the rest of the film, except to set up mood, and style, and it is a wonderful style (interestingly, the rest of the film aside from this opening is without music, another touch of the gripping realism). In a way, as I mentioned, its almost TOO intense, and too spectacular in the power that it has. This is Al Pacino in his prime, after all, off the heels of Serpico and The Godfather films, with his Sonny loaded with vigor and ambition and delusions of grandeur. John Cazale's Sal, by the way, is equally convincing in his own right, bringing a level of sanity to some of Sonny's over-the-top ideas. This film, and its actors and characters and Dede Allen editing, is almost a blue-print for how many other films that would come after this would take. One almost wonders what's the point of all of it, but when it makes its moments to shine, its dynamite.
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Attica!! Attica!!
vinniejo24 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Coming from a school of thought who believe that Al Pacino is the god of acting, I began watching Dog Day Afternoon with a lot of expectations. Having now seen it 25 times (And counting), I must say that this movie has surpassed my expectation every time I've seen it. It has been my all time favorite movie for some time now.

Dog Day Afternoon is a plot driven movie with superb characterization & is based on a real life story. It is essentially about two Vietnam War veterans, Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino) & Sal (John Cazale) who have a lot of anti-establishment feeling within them. They disagree with the idea of working hard for a meager amount of money. Sonny is a bi-sexual who has a relationship outside his marriage & wants money for the sex change operation of his boyfriend. Both of them decide to rob New York bank in broad day light along with another colleague who backs out at the last moment.

The bank robbery goes haywire as their haphazard ways to deal with the situation does not hold them in good stead. To start with, the bank is short of cash. The bank employees are also difficult to deal with. When the city police come to know about the robbery, they station themselves outside the bank, leading to a hostage situation. The movie unfolds into a negotiation between Sonny and the cops, & then between Sonny & FBI which is followed by a rescue operation. Sonny meanwhile, takes time out to slam the media which was following this operation, the cops & the whole establishment in general. He distributes some of the stolen money to the public around him, creates a scene around the bank and becomes a superstar of sorts for one day.

Sonny is sharp & takes charge of the negotiations. He surprisingly gets along well with most of the hostages who also show some sympathy for him (A bit of Stockholm syndrome). Sal on the other hand is impassive, confused & does not take charge of the situation. The chemistry between Sonny & Sal is one of the highlights of the movie. However the biggest USP of the movie is Al Pacino's performance. It was clearly his best acting performance according to me. The 'Attica!!' scene, as well as the scene where Sonny has a conversation with his wife on the phone were phenomenal displays of his acting prowess. The whole Attica sequence makes me sit on the edge of my seat every time I watch this movie. John Cazale has also given a great performance. The movie is fast paced & eventful. Some of the scenes with the hostage (The bathroom scene for example) however are slightly over-dramatic. Finally, Sidney Lumet has done a wonderful job as a director in terms of characterization & to make the whole situation come alive. He evolved as a director from his last movie which was Serpico.

In a nutshell I would say that it is one of the great movies of all time. Anyone who calls himself a movie buff, this movie is a must watch for him.
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An interesting true story made a good film with great performances
bob the moo2 May 2004
Brooklyn, New York. Sonny, Sal and another man walk into the bank and hold it up. Seconds into the job, the third man changes his mind and leaves. The job starts to go wrong when Sonny discovers that the truck he was told was dropping off money, was actually picking it up, meaning the vault is nearly empty. Things get worse when the police arrive outside and trap the two inside with a handful of hostages. As Sonny and Sal try to keep control, a circus breaks out on the street with the police, the public and the media all involved.

I have seen this film several times but it has been a few years since I last had the chance to see it. I watched it again today with the memory of it being good but not really as truly great as many seem to think it is. The plot is all the more fascinated for it being true but it is not an easy subject to bring to the screen. While morally most people can accept robbers in films as characters to support, it is a bigger step to accept the sexualities and complexities of these characters and to get behind them. However the film actually manages to make this quite moving and difficult - not only do we feel for Sonny but the film is fair to him and, more impressively, Leon. It would have been easy to turn this relationship into a joke but the script allows it to be done with sensitivity. The rest of the film captures the sense of circus and media feeding frenzy well as well as being quite tense and enjoyable to watch.

The film's strength is it's performances and, in particular, Pacino in a performance that is both showy and understated at different times. He is a real person and it is to his credit that, no matter the revelations about Sonny, he never loses the audience. Cazale is good here too but in a different way - a simple, sympathetic character. His hit rate is amazing when you think that he was only ever in a handful of films and they were all pretty amazing, but it's hard to tell how good an actor he was really. Durning is good in support and the rest of the cast are pretty good but it is Pacino's film and he manages well with the shouting, the silence and the complexities of his characters.

Overall this is not one of the best films ever made but it is certainly a very good telling of this true story. The film deals very well with both the tension of the situation but also the underlying stories and characters - even more surprising for the period it was made in, it makes a very balanced presentation of the homosexual characters. The direction is very good and the performances are all good, but it is Pacino's film and he does very well with it.
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Smart Puppy
tedg28 April 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

This was back when Pacino had control of himself. He's fun to watch. It's an energetic style of acting that has too much `watch me act' quality to qualify for greatness. But enjoyable.

Lumet scalpeled himself to the world class with `12 Angry Men,' where his camera breathed with the same rhythm of the ensemble. Here, he generally lacks that magic, and the writing isn't very tight either.

But one scene is immortal, on my list of the best 50 scenes in not-excellent films. The phone conversation between Sonny and `wife' Leon is great naturalism. This is Lumet and company at their very best. Watch how the framing moves, the conversation unfolds, how we are drawn into the most intimate pathos -- how they help us escape the voyerism of the crowds right outside, and the many others listening in.

This was Sarandon's first film. His excellence here and his mundane career since (including Prince Humperdink in `Princess Bride') may say something about how a director can weave an emotional potential in others.
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Engaging at first, but later runs out of steam
mattymatt4ever22 April 2001
What can I say about this movie? Pacino's performance was excellent, and he definitely deserved acclaim for his great work in this movie. I also liked Charles Durning, who did a fine job as the hostage negotiator. Sidney Lumet is a talented director, who specializes in intense dramas and is good at stirring up the atmosphere for moments of intrigue.

The film starts out very engaging, with a premise that locks you in. The opening scenes are handled really well. I like how we get to know the characters in the bank on an almost-intimate level. But the film stretches. It stretches itself a little too long, with scenes that could've been considered for the cutting room floor. The intensity just seems to dampen as the film passes the halfway mark. The intrigue is lost, and we're watching soapy interactions between Sonny and his gay lover, as well as his angry wife. The climactic scene is a little disappointing and could've been more exciting.

I wouldn't rate "Dog Day Afternoon" as one of Lumet's best--though it does contain one of Pacino's best performances. There are some memorable moments, but the film--as a whole--is less-than-memorable.

My score: 6 (out of 10)
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Boring Movie
abrahamset28 December 2013
I know I will get bashed for saying that and maybe it is just that I was expecting so much with all the positive hype I was getting from friends and other students but I was definitely very disappointed with watching this movie. There was not much action and Pacino and the other robber were both good actors but it was a bit over the top and there wasn't much interesting action in this. I kind of knew everything that was going to happen so it just seemed predictable that way. I guess maybe it is possible that people long ago told me the best parts of the movie and I forgot about it but knew it was going to happen once I started watching the movie. The scene where they leave the bank is pretty cool with some good tension but other than that I was just really bored most of the time, very disappointing to me because I was expecting such a great movie.
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Finally, a 'great' 70's film that lives up to the hype
stevenfallonnyc17 September 2005
Being such a big movie fan, I discovered there were still many "great" films, especially from the 70's, I haven't seen yet. "Love Story," "The Way We Were," "Straw Dogs" and more, I check them out and they're all overrated tripe.

I was hoping "Dog Day Afternoon" wouldn't fall into that category, and it hasn't. It's actually a very gripping tale and filmed just beautifully, and casted even better. Al Pacino of course is great, and even though he does walk a little close to the "overacting" line (a line he crosses throughout his entire career to some degree) he just stays safe here.

Charles Durning was excellent as the head cop trying to keep things cool, and the scene with him and Pacino simply bickering back and forth is priceless. When the FBI take over at one point, he pretty much disappears for the rest of the movie and it's very noticeable.

This was actually filmed just blocks from where I grew up in Brooklyn so that's another reason I always wanted to see it. I'm shocked this hasn't been on the list for potential remakes, another decent movie ready to be ruined by today's Hollywood.
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An American classic!
Knoxvicious6 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
To sum up this story is about a bank robbery that goes horribly wrong. For two hours it's all about what happens inside the bank where Al Pacion and his companion are keeping citizens hostage until they can get a way out without getting caught. Believe me, the plot might seem like a bit of a bore but it surely is not. I'm not into drama movies at all. In fact I don't even like them too much but this is an exception. The writing is brilliant and the characters are complex and so real. Mind you, this was based on a true story. And of course you won't find a comment where it DOESN'T talk about how brilliant Al Pacion was in this. :) True, this is probably his best role out there and one of the best in history. He didn't play it too over the top or too under it, making it an ordinary flat out boring performance. So, if you don't see this movie for the plot please...see it for Al Pacion. The man is a genius in his work and I promise you will not regret renting this brilliant movie!
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Pacino's Greatest Ever Performance
Tiger_Mark18 November 2003
Not only is one of our greatest actors of all-time at the top of his game in this great film, but one of our greatest directors, Sidney Lumet is also on the top of his game. Dog Day Afternoon tells the story of a bank robbery gone awry. The planner is a former bank employee named Sonny, who needs money to pay for his boyfriend's sex change operation. When you hear that plot, you think comedy. Indeed, this movie is a black comedy, however, as we see in various scenes, it is also very serious. In fact, the tragic ending is a sober dose of real tragedy. Pacino makes this movie, he is that bankrobber, way over his head, trying in vain to make everything work out in the end. However, Sonny and Sal (his bankrobbing buddy) are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, I am glad I was able to see them there, trying in vain to make it all work out. **** out of ****.
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Still "Dogging' Us 30 Years Later
ccthemovieman-17 May 2006
Here's a modern-day "classic" that endures, is still extremely interesting thanks once again to Al Pacino's intense performance and some humor mixed in with a tense crime story. I think first-time viewers still enjoy this movie as much as theater-goers did when they first saw it over 30 years ago.

This was supposedly a true-life event which makes it all the more interesting. The only warning I would give parents is the profanity gets a little rough at times, especially with Charles Durning, the negotiating cop who uses the Lord's name in vain about every other sentence. All the other characters were definitely interesting, especially Pacino's partner "Sal" (John Cazale). "Sal" doesn't have to say much; just the looks on his face say a lot. The story certainly is a memorable one and a big hit when it came out.

Notes: The character " Sheldon" is played by James Broderick, the father of Matthew Broderick. Casale died a few years after this film was made.
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An excellent masterpiece
manicmontana25 March 2007
I cannot believe it took me this long to watch this film.It is one of,if not the best film i have ever watched.From the first five minutes to the last scene you are hooked.Hooked into the world of Sonny(Al Pacino) and Sal(John Cazale).You cant help but feel extremely sorry for these first time crooks,who attempt to rob a bank but everything goes wrong.This film is a funny,sad infuriating thrill ride.Pacino gives his best ever performance.This is the only film i have ever rated 10 /10 and probably the last.Sonny attempts to rob the bank so he can pay for his gay lovers sex operation(Thats right he's bisexual) and Sal goes along for the ride.Sal is more of a loose cannon then Sonny.Poor Sonny tries to please everyone,from the bank tellers inside,to Sal,his lover,wife and children and even the cops.This film leaves you laughing then almost crying in between scenes.This is a must watch film for any real movie buff,or Pacino fan.Go and rent it now if you haven't already watched it.A brilliant film whew!!!
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Most realistic film I've seen
Catch-523 November 2000
This amazing film somehow manages to capture the dense texture of real life. Improvisational acting, no artificial lighting, no costumes or makeup other than what was essential to the character, and no musical score help make it that way. So do intense performances from Al Pacino, John Cazale, and Charles Durning. Frank Pierson's screenplay was well-constructed, although 60% of the dialogue was improvised. It allowed room for moving drama, so-surreal-it-could-only-happen-in-real-life comedy, and quite a bit of suspense. The characters are sketched out incredibly well, with even minor ones having their own "moments." Director Sidney Lumet deserves kudos for orchestrating the whole thing, and proving himself a master of the open form. The film also carries an excellent message of tolerance.
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