Dog Day Afternoon - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Dog Day Afternoon Reviews

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February 17, 2018
1001 movies to see before you die.
Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
February 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.
½ January 14, 2018
A well-made bank robbery film. Great acting from Al Pacino and John Cazale. (First and only full viewing - 10/20/2010)
½ November 25, 2017
Dog Day suffers from the same pacey issues that many loquacious films of the 70s do, but in every other respect it is perfect and perfectly executed.
November 8, 2017
Sidney Lumet had an extraordinary talent for making movies that kind of sneak up on you with their greatness. I have seen this film at least a dozen times, and I know I love it, but I'm consistently surprised by just how great it really is and how many different things this film tackles and how well it accomplishes everything. It's a character study and it contains what is easily one of Pacino's greatest performances. (I was struck by how much you can just enjoy staring at Pacino's face on film.) It's about the relatively new phenomena of a media circus surrounding an event, and it's probably never been dealt with in a better way on film. It's pretty much a perfect film.
½ October 8, 2017
Lumet's 'Dog Day Afternoon' is many things. It's a true story. It's the playground of an actor, Al Pacino, who gives an extraordinary performance. It's tension, suspense, black humor. It's a deadlock from its very beginning but still holds attention, maintaining enough hope to not be sad. It depicts four hours in its two-hour length, and does it therefore with vivid detail, paying a particular attention to the depth of the dialogues, and portraying a heartbreakingly human Sonny, an antihero by nature more endearing than a hero for being so fragile, so disoriented.
September 26, 2017
viewed on 12/9/04 (Sun)

I have always perceived this movie as a heavy social commentary tale. The first half turns out to be rather funny. Two bank robbers run into some outrageous hiccups while robbing the bank. An accomplice backed out in the last minute. One bank robber tries to be smart and burns a register in a bin. The smoke attracts a passer-by, risking being caught. After going through all the trouble, the bank vault is actually left with a small sum of money only. Then, without a clue, they are on national TV, surrounded by police, TV media reporters, a huge crowd and ... gay supporters. Al Pacino's character is a bisexual who is married to a chubby woman with two kids and has a guy he claims to be his wife. He robs the bank for his sex change operation. It is afterall a comedy?

Not really. The second half sees the movie declines into darker depths. It ends in a tragedy. I really hope the movie will end with a lighter note. It feels unbalanced.

Based on true events so I kind of cannot complain much.

Rating: B
September 2, 2017
Brilliant movie! Sidney Lumet once again proves that you don't need fancy sets or multiple exotic locations to make one hell of a movie.

Deserves a re-watch and probably a buy.
½ August 25, 2017
Great film! Pacino is superb! I loved the crazy, intense arguing between Pacino and Durning! It felt so real, even adlibbed! The feel of the movie is incredibly real too - sweat robbers and hostages, dirty door window of the bank, almost everyone looking worn out and exhausted. I love when filmmakers realize that makeup and hair aren't perfect in real life! This film also touches on social issues, like gay marriage, trans gender issues, working man poverty, etc. Pretty progressive! I'd definitely watch this again! " ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA!" p.s. - love that 3 "Godfather" actors are in this!
August 6, 2017
Ridiculous, but super well shot by Sidney Lumet with Al Pacino grand performance
May 17, 2017
Grade - B+
'Dog Day Afternoon' tells an unbelievable true story and, although its first half is definitely stronger than its second, it succeeds thanks to a great script along with a memorable performance by Al Pacino as the unusual bank robber.
April 23, 2017
Dog Day Afternoon is one of my favourite al pacing films. He plays a very pissed off bank robber. I liked the retro feel of the film and the paranoid atmosphere.
½ April 18, 2017
A fantastic movie all around. Fantastic performance by Pacino, great characterization all throughout, and a fascinating story all make for a tense, funny, and engaging movie.
March 16, 2017
The second Al Pacino and Sidney Lumet film I have seen in a row and unlike Serpico which I liked but felt somewhat cold towards I am struggling to find anything major to dislike about this film. Pacino is great as Sonny and the rest of the cast also put in solid performances, it is edited really well, I like the fact that the film manages to up the tension and keep the plot moving at a quick pace while being situated in one area for the majority of the films length, unusually there is no score which actually is to the benefit of the film as the script is so well written and dark in its humour that a score would take away from the scenes that go from aggressive, to funny and then all the way back to poignant. I can see why this is considered a classic from the 70s and is easily one of my favourite discoveries of the year so far.
March 6, 2017
An absolute masterpiece from start to finish. Decades ahead of its time in terms of depicting LGBT characters while also being funny, thrilling, and touching all at the same time.
It is hands down the greatest work of Sidney Lumet.
½ February 23, 2017
Quite an aggressive and yet fairly humorous portrayal of this event that happened in Brookland in 1972. It is certainly quite raunchy with the cussing for a 70s film. While a bit slow at times, it does have it's rare surprising moments.
January 27, 2017
Who sings the song during the scenery Montage in the first 3 minutes?
December 30, 2016
On Al Pacino's cocksure performance alone, Dog Day Afternoon is worth your time. As for how the real story of his character -- a mediocre bank robber turned local TV star of the day -- is told, picture a freshly sharpened knife being used over the course of several years, still sharp enough to cut but noticeably duller. Director Sidney Lumet and screenwriter Frank Pierson search to agree on a single point of view, as they examine different dimensions to the day-long tale. And in many isolated scenes, they really are on point when it comes to media scrutiny, crowd mentality, contemporary relations with authority figures, etc. Speaking of contemporary times, you gotta give some credit to the two for detailing a truthful relationship between Sonny (Pacino) and his to-be-transsexual wife Leon (Chris Sarandon). Sonny knows how to play a show, and so does Pacino. There is a catch to empathizing for Sonny, under Lumet's vision. By the ending, we lose some of the important context that Sonny and his partner Sal (John Cazale) have been holding several people as hostages for the entirety of the day, outright saying to each other that, if necessary, they are ready to kill. This is intentional for the final twist to come out of nowhere, and in its execution, a job well done. Who do I care about then? Hostages, certainly, I want them to be safe. The police, fuck them. The FBI, goddamn, fuck them! The bank robbers, um... They deserve punishment, but be easy on them...? A good true story to snag, with great dark humour bolstered by Pacino, but, if Lumet wanted to complete his analysis on small felony justice, he may have fared better by taking inspiration from the story instead.
November 22, 2016
I felt like one of the hostages in the bank, holding out hope that I would survive through the end. I get that Dog Day Afternoon is important because it makes an interesting statement on human nature and it brings up human rights issues about sexual and gender identities in a time when that wasn't necessarily acceptable. But it is largely a dull, desperate and exhausting affair. We are trapped in the same room with the same people yelling and waving and threatening for 2 hours and nothing really transpires except for the slow, strange development of the main character.

Part of the intent of the film was to display how people change when they are in the spotlight. Sonny turns into a raving "hero" demanding outlandish requests in exchange for the hostages and performing for the people in the streets. The pizza man dances for the crowd and the head teller refuses to leave her girls because her and the others are getting so much attention. It's interesting to see them transform. I also thought it was fascinating how it pushed such liberal themes in a time period that largely rejected them, with some of the major characters being homosexual and transgender people.

Al Pacino's character is dynamic and we slowly learn about him as the robbery progresses. First that he has a wife, then that he has a gay lover, then that he's married to both and his mistress needs a sex change and that he has a troubled relationship with his mother. His motives for the robbery give insight into who he was and what his priorities are. And Pacino does a good job of not playing to homosexual stereotypes and delivering a character who is gay and different, but not flamboyant. But I didn't like how gross and unappealing all the characters become. Aesthetically, the film is poor. It's a boring, blank bank with unattractive, stressed out characters.

The film's central issue is that is largely a tiring bore. It is tense at the beginning, but 30 minutes in the tension has broken and it's exhausting to watch Pacino and the cops constantly go back and forth. As a bank robbery, it is really dry. It consistently brings new characters into the story, such as his lover, his wife, his mother to further develop him. The conclusion was also pretty satisfying where the police trick his friend, shoot him in the head and clear the bus. I get why Dog Day Afternoon is relevant because of its themes and unique central character, but I can only take so much of Al Pacino pacing around sweating, yelling constantly.
½ November 21, 2016
The remarkable thing going on in Dog Day Afternoon is the fact that it transforms into so many different types of stories that I did not see coming from the beginning. In the early parts of the film, I thought it was going to be a simple story about a bank robbery gone wrong. In reality, that is exactly what we get for the first act. Then things start to transition and it becomes almost a satire of how the media spins a story like this, and how people can idolize a sympathetic criminal. What I never saw coming was the explanation of why Sonny is committing the crime. That twist was hidden from us for at least half of the film, and when it is revealed it amazed me. Dog Day Afternoon was so ahead of its time, and it doesn't approach the topic in an offensive or mean-spirited way. Of course this is just a subplot to the main story, and whenever it got back to the simple hostage crisis I wasn't nearly as impressed with the movie. The conclusion had the stakes set high, and built up a lot of tension. Unfortunately, I think they telegraphed the ending a little too much, so it didn't pay off with a finale that lived up to all that came before. However, I have to hand it to Dog Day Afternoon for being progressive, and Al Pacino for delivering a superb performance.
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