Dog Day Afternoon
This month's focus is going to be something I've already decided will be a once in a while thing. I am asking my reading audience to recommend some titles, and as long as I haven't seen them, they stand the potential to get a review. At the same time, I get to see a recommendation of someone else's. I tell you, if it weren't for other people, I would probably let a lot of great titles pass me by.
First on the list is the 1975 classic, 'Dog Day Afternoon'. Winner of the 1976 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, this is based on a real bank robbery that occurred on August 22, 1972. Going by the movie, on that day, three inexperienced bank robbers, Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino), Salvatore Naturale (John Cazale) and Stevie (Gary Springer), hit a Brooklyn branch of the Chase Manhattan bank. Things go off the rails almost immediately when Stevie gets cold feet and takes off, leaving Sonny and Sal on their own. It gets even worse when they realize daily pick-ups have already happened, and the bank really has next to nothing in the safe.
Sonny improvises, but just as things are staring to look up, it turns out that attention has been drawn in their direction. Panicked, the robbers take several bank clerks hostage. What was meant to be a smooth bank robbery where no one was ever going to get hurt quickly escalates into a negotiation between Sonny and police captain Moretti (Charles Durning). The catch is that Sonny ends up finding much of the public on his side, given his circumstances, and after he so famously reminds everyone of the Attica prison riots in which police used brute force.
The big reveal as to why they are there robbing the bank isn't necessarily something I wanna spoil, but I will say that it gave me respect for a film of its time. Let's just say in 1975, it was a touchy subject. If you really wanna know, here's a link to a Wiki article about the real man behind this famous robbery. But I will say that it makes for an interesting character for Pacino to play, and play it well, he does. Although it saddens me to say that I'm a noob with most of Pacino's work. Come to think of it, it might be worth doing a full month of Pacino movies some time in the near future.
The film went on to gather a respectable amount of award nominations, which included 5 more Oscar noms (3 of which were also in the Top 5 categories) and 7 Golden Globe nominations, unfortunately losing each and every one. But a lot of it was lost to 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest', which I do consider my favorite drama, so I can't complain too much. But what really sells this movie, and perhaps the most deserved award, if any, would have been for Al Pacino's engaging performance. He really keeps in interesting, and you can tell he enveloped himself in this role.
That said, given a lot of the subject matter, the film is still great and well worth the watch for audiences today. It's all still perfectly relevant, and it's a good way for a film from over 40 years ago to show us that sometimes, even still, a crooked kind of hero can be pretty easy to get behind.
Leave a Reply.