See This: Dog Day Afternoon

Al Pacino when he was still cool in Dog Day Afternoon



Look at all those 1960s heist movies – gents with David Niven accents in cat-burglar outfits effortlessly walking out of Monte Carlo with a heist of diamonds. How different the 1970s heist movie. In the decade when it became apparent that, economically, everything was falling apart, director Sidney Lumet caught the mood perfectly in a bank job movie set in a city crumbling faster than most others, New York. And there’s Al Pacino as our hero. Not a normal bank robber, but a slightly rubbish one, married but gay, cackhandedly stealing money so his boyfriend can have a gender reassignment operation – sexual orientation being another one of those little things that seemed to be making its presence more strongly felt in the 1970s, and treated by Lumet with a remarkable lack of sensationalism. On the subject of which, there’s another crucial element in the film, the media. Not your question-and-answer merchants in trilbys but ravenning news-harpies whose presence doesn’t just distort reality, it creates it. Add to that Pacino’s haunted performance, one of four or so in the early 1970s that turned him into a star beyond the pillowy imaginings of a Cruise or a Pitt, and you’ve got one of the defining films of the era.

© Steve Morrissey 2007


Dog Day Afternoon – at Amazon




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Dog Day Afternoon (1975) Biography, Crime, Drama | 125min | 25 December 1975 (USA) 8.0
Director: Sidney LumetWriter: Frank Pierson, P.F. KlugeStars: Al Pacino, John Cazale, Penelope AllenSummary: Based upon a real-life story that happened in the early seventies in which the Chase Manhattan Bank in Gravesend, Brooklyn, was held siege by a bank robber determined to steal enough money for his wife (a trans woman) to undergo a sex change operation. On a hot summer afternoon, the First Savings Bank of Brooklyn is held up by Sonny and Sal, two down-and-out characters. Although the bank manager and female tellers agree not to interfere with the robbery, Sonny finds that there's actually nothing much to steal, as most of the cash has been picked up for the day. Sonny then gets an unexpected phone call from Police Captain Moretti, who tells him the place is surrounded by the city's entire police force. Having few options under the circumstances, Sonny nervously bargains with Moretti, demanding safe escort to the airport and a plane out of the country in return for the bank employees' safety. Written by alfiehitchie


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