Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Director: Sidney Lumet

Writer: Frank Pierson (Screenplay) Leslie Waller (Book)

Starring: Al Pacino, John Cazale, Penelope Allen, Charles Durning

 

Plot: A man robs a bank to pay for his lover’s operation; it turns into a hostage situation and a media circus.


Tagline – This movie was not dreamed up by a screenplay writer. It couldn’t have — not with all the bizarre things that actually happened that day in a real bank, with real hostages and with Sonny Wortzik – the most unreal person who ever wanted to rob a bank

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tension Biopic

 

Story: Dog Day Afternoon starts as Sonny (Pacino) and Sal (Cazale) attempt to rob a bank, they are polite with how they handle everything not wanting to hurt anybody in the process. What seemed like a simple bank robbery takes a turn when officer Moretti (Durning) calls to negotiate a peaceful outcome.

With Moretti trying to keep Sonny calm we learn just how unprepared Sonny is, as the hostage situation soon turns into a media circus spiralling out of control. We soon learn Sonny’s motivation for the robbery which gains him the support of the public leaving us to wonder how it will end.

 

Thoughts on Dog Day Afternoon

 

Characters – Sonny has planned the bank robbery, but he has only planned for the robbery not a hostage situation, he is working to stay in control as he befriends the hostages never get violent enjoying the media circus that surrounds the situation. His motivations are good and over the course of the movie we start to support his actions. Sal is the partner in the robbery, he doesn’t want to hurt anyone, he is a man of few words and doesn’t seem like he is completely all there in the head. Sylvia is the head cashier, she doesn’t want to leave her girls behind becoming the voice of reason at times between the two sides.

PerformancesAl Pacino is fantastic in this role, he showed everybody just how talented he is, the career he was about to have and how he can control, dominate a 2-hour movie. John Cazale is great in the supporting role, he shows must of his feelings in expressions which is what his character requires. Penelope Allen is strong too, while only being a supporting role she is strong throughout the film.

StoryThe story starts with the robbery starting and finishes with the outcome, we have no build up no aftermath which is what we needed for the film. while I know it isn’t real time it does feel like real time as we follow the events as Sonny and Moretti try to stay one step ahead of each other. This is based on a real event which was the circus event shown in the movie, this is one of the stories that drags you in and makes you want to see where things will go.

Biopic/CrimeThis is a biopic that shows one event on Sonny’s life, this is the only part we need to see because it is the event that changes his life. The crime is a bank robbery which goes from simple to complicated for Sonny quickly.

SettingsThe whole film is set at the bank, this is the only setting we need because it shows how the situation could get out of hand because Sonny has been backed into a corner.


Scene of the Movie –
Attica, Attica.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I couldn’t find one.

Final ThoughtsThis is an acting masterclass from Pacino, this is his best performance of his career, it shows a story that was based on the real events which keep us on edge throughout the film. This is easily one of the best movies of all time.

 

Overall: Brilliant Thriller that stands the test of time.

Rating

 

 

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The Conversation (1974)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Writer: Francis Ford Coppola (Screenplay)

Starring: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Frederic Forrest, Cindy Williams, Michael Higgins, Elizabeth MacRae, Harrison Ford

 

Plot: A paranoid, secretive surveillance expert has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that a couple he is spying on will be murdered.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Thriller

 

Story: The Conversation starts as surveillance expert Harry Caul (Hackman) and his team record their latest work surround a married couple, upon looking to receive his payment we learn about his paranoid mind set, living in secretive life with no phones, wanting his own lock for his apartment and his own secure mail box.

Once he collects his payment, Harry starts looking into the recordings, asking just what is so important about the conversation he has recorded. When his former employee Stan (Cazale) leaves him, Harry starts to believe he is being followed and it is his involvement in the last case causing this feeling, is he being followed or just losing his mind.

 

Thoughts on The Conversation

 

Characters/PerformanceHarry is an isolated man who works on the bugging world before it was a major factor, he is considered one of the best in the business but does have a paranoid side. He starts to question everything he has been doing putting his career on the line. The rest of the characters are people that work with, respect or are the people are being recorded, they all help with the outcome of the film.

Performance wise, Gene Hackman is brilliant in this leading role playing each part of the character exactly how you would expect him to be. We do have good performance from the supporting cast and always look out for young Harrison Ford.

StoryThe story has in places dated because technology has moved onto the next level and the idea of the surveillance idea has become a major problem in the world. We do get a mystery thriller that leads our leading man Harry into a moral dilemma into what is the right or wrong thing to do, this is the highlight of the film.

Mystery/ThrillerWe are left trying to piece together the mystery in this film about what is the importance of this conversation recorded and once Harry questions it all we are left wanting to know how it will unfold.

SettingsMost of the settings show us just how difficult it would be to trust your environment from becoming bugged and the consequences of being caught where you would know what it is like to be the victim.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that has a brilliant pay off and twist even if it is slightly slow getting to that moment.

 

Overall: Good thriller that stands the suspense of time.

Rating