Dog Day Afternoon

1975

Dog Day Afternoon

Critics Consensus

Framed by great work from director Sidney Lumet and fueled by a gripping performance from Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon offers a finely detailed snapshot of people in crisis with tension-soaked drama shaded in black humor.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 42

90%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 110,054
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Movie Info

Based on a true 1972 story, Sidney Lumet's 1975 drama chronicles a unique bank robbery on a hot summer afternoon in New York City. Shortly before closing time, scheming loser Sonny (Al Pacino) and his slow-witted buddy, Sal (John Cazale), burst into a Brooklyn bank for what should be a run-of-the-mill robbery, but everything goes wrong, beginning with the fact that there is almost no money in the bank. The situation swiftly escalates, as Sonny and Sal take hostages; enough cops to police the tristate area surround the bank; a large Sonny-sympathetic crowd gathers to watch; the media arrive to complete the circus; and police captain Moretti (Charles Durning) tries to negotiate with Sonny while keeping the volatile spectacle under control. When Sonny's lover, Leon (Chris Sarandon), tries to talk Sonny out of the bank, we learn the robbery's motive: to finance Leon's sex-change operation. Sonny demands a plane to escape, but the end is near once menacingly cool FBI agent Sheldon (James Broderick) arrives to take over the negotiations. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Dog Day Afternoon

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (40) | Rotten (2)

  • On the other and substantial hand, most of those segments are very good. If the whole is less than the sum of the parts, if there really is no sum of the parts, those parts those parts are extraordinarily well made.

    Jan 8, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Enjoyable and even exciting at the start, Dog Day Afternoon degenerates into frustration and tedium toward nightfall -- an experience no less painful for the audience than for the actors.

    Apr 27, 2009 | Full Review…
  • One of Sidney Lumet's best jobs of directing and one of Al Pacino's best performances (as a bisexual bank robber) come together in a populist thriller with lots of New York juice

    Apr 27, 2009 | Full Review…
  • [Pacino] gives an electric performance, charged with a lunatic energy that expertly captures the weird blend of confidence and self-deprecation (if not hatred) that marks the paranoid syndrome.

    Aug 24, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Dog Day Afternoon is, in the whole as well as the parts, filmmaking at its best.

    Aug 24, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • The film's strength lies in its depiction of surfaces, lacking the visual or intellectual imagination to go beyond its shrewd social and psychological observations and its moments of absurdist humour.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

    Leonard Quart

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Dog Day Afternoon

  • Feb 13, 2018
    I love the wonderful sense of New York in the 1970's that this film gives us. The characters, dialog, and shots on location in Brooklyn are all highly authentic. It's Al Pacino who really makes the film though, with a performance that is captivating and endearing. He's bumbling and ill-prepared as the leader of this bank heist, yet he's cagey and street-wise as a New York rat. We first get a glimpse of how amateurish these criminals are when one of the three bails early on in the robbery, which is a comical moment. We also smile at Pacino's handling of the situation. He realizes the importance of the hostages he suddenly finds himself holding, but far from being heavy-handed, he tries to be decent with them. He whips the crowd up into an anti-establishment frenzy by shouting "Attica!", throwing wads of money into the air, and paying for pizza delivery. He gets into a shouting match with a police sergeant (Charles Durning). He talks to his wife, mother, and transgender lover (Chris Sarandon), and each conversation is touched with pathos, and fantastic. To his mother he says "I'm a fuck-up and I'm an outcast. If you get near me you're gonna get it. You're gonna get fucked over and fucked out." It's the outcast underdog that we find ourselves rooting for. I love the simple acceptance of his sexuality, which is incidental and doesn't devolve into some type of stereotype - well ahead of its time. Director Sidney Lumet shows the seamy side of New York, but at the same time, its humanity. The characters are blunt, but understanding of one another when they simply say what they want. The relationships in this tense stand-off are fascinating. I also liked how Lumet gets us into the story immediately. We learn the backstories and characters of the criminals, including Pacino's henchman (John Cazale) gradually, and in little moments, such as finding out he fears their escape plan because he's never been on an airplane before. The film works as both a hostage drama and as a character study. It may be a teeny bit too long at 125 minutes, but has held up well over the years, and is definitely worth watching.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 18, 2016
    A bit of repetition and few pacing issues aside, Dog Day Afternoon is an outstanding film, fueled by Pacino's incredible performance, some great editing, and a script that is both exciting and thematically rich, exploring the rising role of media and television in society and the nature of humanity. It is every bit as interesting as it is exciting, and it's absolutely worth your time.
    Joey T Super Reviewer
  • Apr 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.
    Christian C Super Reviewer
  • Jul 07, 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
    Eugene B Super Reviewer

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