Dog Day Afternoon - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Dog Day Afternoon Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 24, 2016
An honest, gritty and unexpectedly sensitive performance by Pacino with strong support from Durning make this film well worth watching. Although the film is dated in many ways, its social messages are as relevant today as they were back then.
Super Reviewer
July 7, 2014
Al Pacino gives arguably one of his greatest performances in this gritty & hostile film. Dog Day Afternoon supplies dramatic & classical moments with the amount of exploitation and nerve-racking elements of the actual true events coming into play, making this one of the best pictures of the 1970s. 4/5
Super Reviewer
½ May 28, 2008
Zowie! Sidney Lumet's vision of the Big Apple circa 1972 sparkles with historical and cultural authenticity (which I hated when it was released for being "too gritty", not Hollywood enough, but now understand as a perfect document of the times and worthy of any museum). In the meantime the story simply motors along, led by a electric Al Pacino and aided by a wonderful supporting cast too numerous to name. A beautiful film.
Super Reviewer
½ August 28, 2013
I was in Kenndy Airport the day this happen, was going to boot camp in the navy, my flight was held up for hours pissed off the drill instructors. 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. 5 stars 8-20-13
Super Reviewer
½ October 30, 2012
Al Pacino is beyond priceless in this hilarious film about a hugely inept bank robbery, and Lumet balances humor and action with perfection, creating many memorable scenes in what is both a quirky character study and a sharp commentary on the power of the media.
Super Reviewer
½ May 23, 2012
I really enjoyed this film. It does start out better than it ends, but remains interesting enough all of the way through. It is subtly funny and very dramatic. It has a very good screenplay and a great performance by Pacino. I think it was a little too slow developing, but enjoyable in the end.
Super Reviewer
February 17, 2012
Al Pacino and John Cazale came into this film just off the back of completing "The Godfather parts I & II" together. Pacino also managed to do "Serpico" and Cazale "The Conversation" in-between. It was a good run they were both on in the early 70's and this no less of a classic than the aforementioned ones.
On a hot day in New York, on 22nd August 1972, three men set out to rob a bank. It's supposed to take ten minutes, but things start going wrong from the beginning when one of them bails at the last minute. Four hours later, the bank is surrounded by police, a media circus, and crowds of well wishers.
As the film opens, we are given a montage of New York life and it's vastness and eclectic mix of people. Not before long though, we are then lead into a bank by three men, who proceed to threaten the bank tellers with rifles. Within minutes, this true story has begun with such a tense and completely believable hold-up. The tension is, by-and-large, the masterwork of director Sidney Lumey and a strikingly powerful performance by Al Pacino. Lumet never let's up for a moment, he has the camera moving at such a pace that the adrenaline of the bank robbery is also felt by the viewer. He has always been a highly respected director and on this evidence alone, you can see why. And then, almost suddenly, the pace is ground to a halt with a phone call... The police are watching everything that going on from across the street. This is when Lumet slows it down and gets closer to his actors and the claustrophobia of the situation. The performances are uniformly brilliant - making you forget that it's actors you're watching - but this is ultimately Pacino's show. He highly on-edge, with despairing eyes and nervous ticks, desperately trying to hold everything together. He injects a real sympathy and believability to his character and it stands as one of his finest pieces of work. Added to which, with the body of work that Sidney Lumet has delivered over a career spanning 50 years (he died in 2011), this is one of his greatest achievements also.
An outstanding, naturalistic heist movie that boasts career highs and an unbearable tension that never let's up. In a decade of fine cinema, this remains one of the best of the 70's.
Super Reviewer
July 13, 2010
This is one of the most comprehensive, well thought out, and emotionally complicit films about bank robbery, the inspiration for later great films such as Public Enemies and Point Break. The film is the true story of a bank robbery in Brooklyn in 1972 by Sonny and Sal which led to a media cavalcade of massive proportions. What differs from many films about bank robbing is that the robber isn't a feared individual hell-bent on evil ways, murdering everyone along the way and "throwing bodies out the front door." The robbers in question are made to feel like pathetic human beings, one a soft hearted but deeply loyal triggerman who is held accountable for the hostages' lives, yet must be coaxed and cuddled throughout by the leader, Sonny. Sonny (Al Pacino) is the best and sole reason for the entire film. He is pointedly a dejected man with little keeping him mentally sober to everything going on around him. Though he is a violent and changed person in the passing years, he cares for the hostages he is keeping alive in the bank and they in turn start becoming his friends and willing captives, mimicking Stockholm Syndrome. Little by little Sonny heads all negotiations and becomes the eccentric face of the operation, leading him to becoming a media darling and grandstander for the all too willing crowd of loud mouths and radicals. The entire film shows the human side of the robbers, the intricate set of events that led to the end of their game of chance. Though much of this is simply shot within the parameters of the actual scene and does not defer from the bank or the outside perimeter, the waiting game is always intensified by the arguments between Sonny and Detective Moretti (Charles Durning) which usually give Sonny the upper hand, as he not only holds hostages, but regularly stirs up the crowd with his calls of "Attica" a police blunder several months beforehand. Here Sonny is a folk hero, a diabolical lynch pin who knows everything that the police are planning to do, gives himself to the public eye, and then believes he and his accomplice will get away scot free. Besides that he himself has a complicated backstory, what with his perpetually verklempt wife, his worrying yet naive mother, and newly gilded bride, Leon. Another element to the story is Sonny's motive in robbing the bank: to pay for a sex change operation for Leon. Though this is only a small section of the film and in no way changes the warped view of him, he is still a problematic character, and though he is cocky he still fears death. Great casting led to the part of Sal going to the incredibly talented John Cazale, who plays the needy outsider who would rather start killing the hostages then be killed himself. Carol Kane and Chris Sarandon play small roles, both unknown at the time and looking fresh faced and incredibly young. Just a wrought, beautiful, and horrifying account of a desperate man made into a leader before he was ready.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2011
Sonny: Bank robbing is a federal offense. You got me on kidnapping, armed robbery. You're gonna bury me, man! 

"Anything can happen during the dog days of summer. On August 22nd, 1972, everything did"

Sidney Lumet made the best bank robbery film ever with Dog Day Afternoon. The film is an amazing look at a true life bank robbery gone wrong. The story is deeper than the robbers just wanting money. The scene of the robbery looks like a music festival. There are crowds of citizens who cheer on Sonny. There are cops everywhere, itching at the chance to put a bullet in a Sonny's head. Inside isn't as hectic as you would think a bank robbery would be. Some of  The bank employees are actually enjoying themselves to a certain degree. One even refuses the offer of leaving. 

Sonny and his pal Sal walk into a bank around closing time and begin what they believe to be a simple robbery, but a few mistakes turn it into a media frenzy. Sonny says they are leaving, but gets a call from a police officer telling him they are surrounded. Outside are hundreds of officers. They are on roofs, fire escapes, outside of windows, and they all have guns and we all know what they want to do with them. From here, it is a bargaining game, but one of the more interesting and entertaining bargaining games you could watch. Family adds drama to the whole situation, as does a gay lover, but the film never falls into the traps those extra details could have caused.

Al Pacino gives one of the best performances of his long career. That is saying something because the guy gave some crazy good performances. The rest of the cast is amazing too. I don't recognize many faces from the cast, but they all turn in convincing performances. What makes this a extraordinary film though, is Sidney Lumet's masterful direction. He knows exactly how to show every detail of the robbery. He doesn't just show what the cops are doing, or just what Sonny is doing; he shows it all. He shows the media, the family, the cops, the hostages and Sonny. All of which serve a vital purpose in telling this story. To leave any of it out would have been irresponsible.

The more Lumet I watch, the more fascinated I am with him. This is one of my favorites from him, side by side with Running On Empty. I don't think Dog Day Afternoon will ever be matched when it comes to bank robbery films. Most movies like this get distracted with unimportant scenes where the clock is running out. This isn't a fast paced action film, it is a drama, which is how most robberies like this take place. There are negotiations and when there is violence it is quick and anti-climactic. Lumet uses this knowledge to his advantage to make an extremely realistic bank robbery movie.

Sonny: Is there any special country you wanna go to? 
Sal: Wyoming. 
Sonny: Sal, Wyoming's not a country. 
Super Reviewer
½ December 23, 2011
Dog Day Afternoon is one of those great naturalistic, organically satifying movies of the 70's. Based on a real robbery, It portrays one of the most believable and pathetic bank heists ever filmed. The robbers are total amateurs, and things just keep getting worse as the fim progresses.

Everyone on the creative team is at the top of their game, the great and eclectic Sidney Lumet, the intense robbers Al Pacino and John Cazale, sex change candidate Chris Sarandon in his first film role, and a cast of perfectly cast supporting players, and the grainy and grimy art direction and claustrophobic camera and dolly moves. The New York here is not the slick Fifth Avenue New York or even grungy 70's Time Square, but a god forsaken corner of working Brooklyn on the hottest day of the year. You almost sweat just looking at the amazingly evocative atmosphere.

It's about flawed human beings, not masterminds, making one bad random choice after another. It's about small heroic acts of every day, working stiffs, it's about random reflex that contribute to violence, it's about media and celebrity in a corrupt age, and it's about the complexities of love and the comedy of having no self awareness.

The perfomance by Pacino is a marvel, since he plays the bisexual head criminal with an innate sense of decency and kindness. He is the most sympathetic character in the story, and leaves an indelible impression in his canon of great performances.

The script is a marvel as well, restrained and human. The dialogue is completely natural and no one is cheesily sassy or clever, they are just humans caught up in a extreme situation.

On the down side, the film sags in the middle when night falls, but stick with it. It would be hard to live up to its gripping first hour. Dog Day Afternoon pays off at the climax, big time. I saw the blu ray release and was really taken with its grainy documentary look and lack of music soundtrack, which is becoming rarer in the age of digital film and surround sound. This is one of the great 70's classics.
Super Reviewer
August 26, 2011
One of cinema's most outstanding bank robbery films, Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon is a work of sheer brilliance. I would consider this film to be one of the essential bank robbery films. The film has a great, raw, gritty atmosphere that adds a feel of realism to the picture. Al Pacino and John Cazale deliver some strong performances and other key performances here are Charles Durning as Detective Moretti and Chris Sarandon as Sonny's lover, Leon. Dog Day Afternoon is a well crafted crime film that showcases Al Pacino's talent as an actor even further. This is one of the classic, quintessential 1970's works, a film that is just as important as Taxi Driver. Dog Day Afternoon is a well crafted film that is held together by the strong performances delivered by the cast members. Sidney Lumet is much underrated as a director, and he's directed one of the best crime films of the 1970's. Dog Day Afternoon is based on real facts that make the film much more exciting. Dog Day Afternoon id a film that is a must see for crime film fans. Overall this is a raw, gritty realistic film that is brilliantly directed by Sidney Lumet. Unfortunately this work has been eclipsed by some of Scorsese's pictures, and it's a shame because this film is just as good as Scorsese's films. If you come across this film, give it a viewing, this is a stunning crime film that works well because of the strong cast that deliver some memorable performances. As far as bank robbery films are concerned, Dog Day Afternoon is a classic of the genre, and though at times it does drag on a bit, the performances alone keep you engaged into its story. Lumet definitely directed a memorable and flawless film that remains a benchmark in 1970's cinema. A film definitely worth watching, its realism is unsurpassed and the story is simply brilliant.
Super Reviewer
April 29, 2009
Incredible thriller, with real characters (literally) and massively entertaining. Sidney Lumet's work is impressive, as he lets the camera speak in Dog Day Afternoon. Don't even get me started on Al Pacino's performance. To sum it all up in one word: legendary.
Super Reviewer
April 8, 2011
This movie is an absolutely fantastic film which really displays some of Lumet & Pacino's best work. Not only does Lumet give us fully fleshed out characters, but Pacino is strikingly nuanced as an angst ridden man who gets in way over his head in an attempt to stake out his piece of the American dream. I know this seems unbelievable because of the slew of filth that Pacino has starred in, but this film is proof that in the right hands Pacino can give a strong and multi-dimensional performance.
This film is not only well directed, but is also a very brave film to be making for 1975. It tackles the media (which he will explore more in his next film Network) , issues of homosexuality & race, the Vietnam war, and class conflict. While it takes on a lot, Lumet is smart about it and doesn't bombard the audience with a bunch of heavy handed messages. While both director and star would have some duds in their future, this film really showcases the power that both of these men wield with film.
Super Reviewer
December 29, 2007
Some minor flaws in the editing and the cinematography won't stop me from shouting that this film is pure genius.

Al Pacino should have definitely won the Oscar for this film.
Super Reviewer
November 2, 2007
A solid entry into the heist-thriller genre, but not the masterpiece many claim it is. Although it features one of the best Al Pacino performances I can recall, the movie's tension seems to loosen around it's 2/3 mark, as Lumet oversteps his grounds in developing Pacino's character while in turn basically forgetting to color Cazale's whatsoever. With that said, this is a mostly very, very good film, it starts out fast and the first hour its next to impossible to turn away from. This whole story is based on true events, and Lumet knows when to add the story's biggest twist at the right time. The ending is also very taut and is executed perfectly, capped off by Pacino's emotional facial expressions. Definitely worth checking out if you like thrillers that start out fast.
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2009
A great movie and one of the best, if not the best heist film of all time. Al Pacino gave a tremendous performance, one of his best. The story is just so different from any other film at the time or even now that it sets itself apart from any other film like it. It is one of the bravest films of all time in my opinion in that it evokes social change and character archetypes. It's not just another movie about crime, it's about humanity and what people will do for love and to survive. Sidney Lumet's genius is showcased with this visually stunning and perfectly shot film. No recounting of actual events has ever come off as being so fresh and original. There is no glory in a bank robbery, just immediate consequences and a perfect storm of aggression. Next to Copolla's, this is the best crime film to come out of the 70s.
Super Reviewer
November 23, 2008
I wasn't ready for Dog Day Afternoon. I was expecting a simple heist thriller, albeit one with some very fine acting. Dog Day Afternoon destroyed those expectations, and kept going further and further beyond them. I can't imagine a movie like this, a movie of such scope, being made today.

If Al Pacino has done any finer, more varied acting in a movie, then I haven't seen it. In movies like The Godfather or Heat, his performances are generally kept in a pretty specific range of emotions. Here, he's all over the place, and it impressed the hell out of me. And John Cazale is just as impressive, he's the somber, quiet face that constantly reminds us that this story can't end well, no matter how smoothly things may be going from moment to moment. He already knows, like we secretly do, that tragedy and violence hang over the bank like a spectre.

You've never seen a bank robbery like this. The robbers themselves are genial and accomodating, and quickly you come to the conclusion that these are not evil men. The hostages come to that realization along with the audience, and soon they seem to be running the show as much as their captors. There's a real camaraderie that forms between all those involved, including the police officer who is initially in charge outside. That peaceful resolution seems so near, that we want to believe that it's actually coming. That only makes the inevitable conclusion more stark, when it arrives.

Dog Day Afternoon tackles some big, unexpected issues. The only Sidney Lumet movie that I had seen prior to this was Before the Devil Knows You're dead, so I had no idea that he was capable of this kind of a film. Needless to say, I'm now looking forward to seeing a lot more of his work. I was completely unprepared for some of the social themes that are a major part of the story, because they come completely out of the blue, and they're the lynchpin of the entire plot. And the movie is all the bette,r and makes a bigger impact, because of that. Your personal politics or opinons don't really matter, because by that point you'll be so involved with the characters that it all just seems like more pieces that go into the puzzles of who they are. It's sheer genius, in my opinion.

On a day when I've seen Psycho for the first time, it's hard to imagine that there could be another movie that I could have watched that would make an impact, as well. But together with Blood Simple, I've seen two movies that are almost good enough to come out from under Psycho's shadow. Dog Day Afternoon is one of those movies that makes you really appreciate all that film can be, and it's even more remarkable when you remember the disclaimer that said that these events really happened. I cannot wait to watch it again.
Super Reviewer
March 27, 2009
I just don't find 70s flicks very captivating or original these days...
Super Reviewer
June 26, 2006
Classic! - One of a kind! - Pacino and his cohorts plan a simple bank robbery - which becomes a headliner al around the nation.

"ATTICA! ATTICA!" - hehehe.... arguably one of Pacino's best performances, near the beginning of what is to be an illustrious career, just having made the Godfather and Serpico, this is first of its kind, a single location, single story movie which is an action comedy of sorts, and the best of its kind. Funny, slapstick and totally weird, how could we believe that this is actually a true story? It certainly is! How about the scene where the Pizza delivery boy helps Sonny in, and turns around and screams "Im a FCKING STAR!!" and jumps around.... lololz and a half. And what about the homosexuality thrown in, the whole point of the robbery was to get some money for Sonny's boyfriend to have a sex change operation. o_O???


It should have won best film and director (It went to Rocky I think) - the acting is great, the whole cinematography was excellent... I guess the reason why this movie excelled in all areas was that it was so simple, slightly twisted by ever so simple, simple to make and produce into a cinema classic, which to date hasnt been bettered or remade. (I hope they dont)

This was great to watch, no special effects, no fancy stuff, just good hardcore old school acting, the movie being led along by its stellar performances, humor and twists and turns. When you thought it couldnt get stranger, it certainly does.

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