"Al Pacino burns up the screen in Dog Day Afternoon which is based on a true story and confirms that fact that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Mr. Pacino plays Sonny who teams up with the dullard Sal (John Cazale) to rob a Brooklyn bank on a sweltering summer afternoon. Sonny was a one-time bank employee, so he knows all the tricks of the trade to thwart bank robbers. Unfortunately for the robbers, the bank virtual has no money do to having made a deposit only hours before the robbery attempt. A shopworker across the street from the bank notices the strange proceedings and calls the cops. Before you know it, the bank is completely surrounded by cops. The cops (led by Charles Durning & James Broderick) start a hostage negotiation with Sonny. Even though Sonny's a crook, he isn't all bad and he, Sal and the hostage bank workers form a strange kinship. The story is shown on TV and a crowd gathers in the streets as well and Sonny becomes something of a cult hero. His scenes on the street outside the bank are scintillating including his famous Attica chant. Sonny is married with kids, but it turns out that he was robbing a bank to pay for a sex change operation for his gay lover, Leon (Chris Sarandon). The movie closes out at night at the airport in dramatic fashion. Sidney Lumet does a fine job translating the heat and humidity of the day and you can feel yourself sweating along with the characters. Mr. Pacino has been more heralded for his Godfather roles, Scarface, Serpico and Scent Of A woman, but in my book, he was never finer than he was in this movie."
A Small Scale Classic!
Robby Raeford | Greensboro, NC United States | 01/26/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I bought Dog Day Afternoon on DVD completly at random, just based on the actors, and the synopsis. On the back of the case, this movie is branded as a "boisterous comedy" that is "Bitingly Funny". And while the movie certainly has its funny parts, it never has one-liner jokes, or much situational humor. It is more of a comedy as a whole, and just about how the whole bank robbery got screwed up. Accually, it is really quite serious in tone. So once you get past the aboslutly false statements that this is a comedy, you start to see the magic of this film. It is a very static movie, and the everything takes place in or around the bank throughout the entire movie until the very end. The story isn't driven through action sequences, rather it is driven by the brilliant dialoge between characters. When watching this movie, you will feel like you are right there, inside this movie. You will progress right along with the main character, Sonny. You watch his attitude change from being very optimistic and hopeful, into a more frustrated, disjointed, and confused character. Al Pacino does a brilliant job showing the many changes that Sonny goes through. You can literally see the preasure on Sonny's face as time is running out, and as his plans keep getting more and more screwed up. Not only does Al Pacino do a brilliant job, but the other characters are amazingly protrayed as well. Other notable performances are Leon (Sonny's disconnected boyfriend), Sal (Sonn'y partner), and even Detective Moretti. Every character is so believable and real that you will truly feel like you have met them all first hand. One thing that I have noticed about Dog Day Afternoon is its influences on more modern movies. As I was watching it, I couldn't help but recognize modern movies in it. Two examples that came to mind the most are Mad City, and Airheads. In Mad City, John Travoltra's character is also faced with a media circus as he holds a group of school kids and their teacher hostage in a meauseam. The frenzy of media coverage, the public reaction, and the way that the main character becomes friendly with the hostages all give a very big nod to Dog Day Afternoon. In Airheads, I noticed that the way one of the guys who had taken the radio station hostage would come outside to talk to the cops, and while he was out there, he would incite the crowd and start different chants. In Airheads, one of the hostage takers started the crowd in a "Rodney King" chant, while in Dog Day Afternoon, Al Pacino started the crowed in an "Attica" chant. These sequences are so familiar that I am convinced the screen writers had Dog Day Afternoon in mind when writing them. Overall, this is a fantastic movie that is full of brilliant performances. But for some, it may seem way to static, and slow moving. As far as DVD features go, the picture quality is superb, considering that the original film is from the mid 70's. The audio is Dolby Mono tracked, but nothing else is neccesary. There are no sound effects to speak of - it is all pretty much dialogue - so the mono track is sufficient. As far as extras, if you consider Scene Selections and Interactive Menus to be "extras", then you will be happy, but I would say that this DVD is as bare as they get. I can't stand when DVD Case designers try and pass off these standard 'features' as extras. That is like a CD advertising its ability to change tracks with the touch of a button. Great movie - decent DVD transfer."
A Bank Robbery Gone Terribly Wrong
The Groove | Boston, MA | 10/28/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Without showing a trace of his icy performance as Michael Corleone in "The Godfather" parts 1 & 2, Al Pacino made a radical departure by playing a bisexual bank robber in "Dog Day Afternoon." Here's a hilarious (but apparently true) story about Sonny (Pacino) who stages a bank robbery to finance his lover's sex change operation. Within minutes, the attempted robbery heads for disaster, as the police and media surround the bank while Sonny holds the employees hostage for the entire day. Even after nearly 30 years, "Dog Day Afternoon" is a marvel to see. This film won a well-deserved 1975 Academy Award for its witty screenplay, and Pacino's performance ranks among his best. Unfortunately, those who are looking for a deluxe-edition DVD will be sorely disappointed with this release. The picture is incredibly grainy, with spots, hairs, and marks. The sound is 1-channel mono, instead of a 5.1 surround remix. But the biggest slap on the face is the virtual lack of features on this DVD: we don't even get a trailer. All we get are production notes. Movie buffs and Pacino diehards will pick this up, but everyone else should hold off, rent the film, and hope that Warner Bros. will release a special edition of this great movie."
A bank robbery gone very very wrong
mabus | Canada | 02/07/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Al Pacino's glorious little film about a couple of would be bank robbers who simply have a really bad day. Brought to you by the same team that would also bring us Serpico, Pacino is simply electrifying in this film about a bank robbery in New York City that simply turned into a media circus on live television. Filmed soon after Pacino's stunning entry into the hollywood lights as Michael Corleone in Coppola's Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon cemented Pacino as a legitimate star in his own right. With a rivetting performance Pacino simply oozes panic and sheer hysteria. The film begins when Pacino and two friends enter a bank and begin the heist. The film makes little effort to set things up, prefering to get right into the action. Once it starts it never stops. Just moments after the bank robbery begins one of the would be thieves simply loses his nerve and walks out. Things get worse from there. From a little homemade fire to snipey cops ready to blow his brains out on the tarmac this movie simply screams tension. It was one of the very first Bank robbery movies which were rather popular for a long time. Pacino is simply terrific in this film as an on the edge psychopath who simply wants to pull the job off. But he's clearly in over his head and sinking fast.This movie isn't for everyone. It's not one of the best movies ever, and it's simply not for all tastes. But if you are a Pacino fan or love high tension drama's you may enjoy this. There's never a dull moment and it's beautifully scripted. The weirdest part of the whole thing is that it's largely based on a true story, if for no other reason than that, this movie should be seen. If you are an Al Pacino fan, this is a brilliant must have."
"Sal, Wyoming's not a country."
Steven Y. | Marvel Universe 616 | 07/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" reminds us that films once upon a time made it a point to properly develop the individuals within their stories. Younger filmgoers who grew up in later eras may not realize it, but cinematic works from decades past actually were inhabited by characters and not caricatures.
Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino), Sal (John Cazale) and Stevie (Gary Springer) attempt to rob a Brooklyn bank just before closing time. The robbery turns into a debacle as Stevie immediately flees the scene and Sonny and Sal discover that the bank virtually has no money at its location. The police arrive to arrest the would-be robbers but Sonny soon starts to gain the support of the bystanders outside and uses the press at the scene to make the most of his time in the spotlight. Just when it appears matters cannot get any more odd, Sonny's new "wife" (Chris Sarandon) is brought to the scene and the reason for the bank robbery is revealed.
"Dog Day Afternoon" is in a class of its own when one is talking about bank robbery films. There are so many unconventional elements to the story - from the clumsily-planned heist to the amusing rapport between the robbers and the hostages to the role Leon Shermer plays in the proceedings - that it truly stands alone when compared to other entries in the genre. One might think that it would be easy to lose sight of the fine performances in "Dog Day Afternoon" with all of these elements vying for your attention but the efforts turned in by Pacino, Cazale, Sarandon, Charles Durning, and the rest of the cast is so good that their characters will not promptly fade from memory. Lumet also does an amazing job of creating a specific time and place with his directing. He infuses "Dog Day Afternoon" with such realism that you can literally feel the heat rising from sidewalks. Take out your scorecard and mark down this jewel as one of the essential films of the Seventies."