Dog Day Afternoon Reviews
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
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.
"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?
Sonny: Sal, Wyoming's not a country.
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.
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.
Al Pacino should have definitely won the Oscar for this film.
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.
"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???
RIGHT. *ahem* LOLOLOLOLZ.
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.