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.
Performances – Al 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.
Story – The 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/Crime – This 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.
Settings – The 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.
Final Thoughts – This 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.