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Dog Day Afternoon More at IMDbPro »

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348 out of 383 people found the following review useful:

My Ten Commandments of Dog Day Afternoon! ;-)

Author: Asa_Nisi_Masa2 from Rome, Italy
26 May 2005

I've watched this film for the third time in a few years last night. Instead of writing a straight review, I'd like to jot down ten thoughts just off the top of my head concerning this exquisite movie:

1) Watching this film will change forever your perception of the bank heist genre, making you question the contrived cinematic conventions these films usually make use of.

2) The source of this film's paradoxical and/or farcical elements spring from life itself, not from film or pre-existing cinematic conventions. Sometimes, the absurdities of life are so great, they dwarf those included in any form of fiction. Without even trying to make that point, this film captures that concept beautifully.

3) Its tone in relation to the homosexual theme is ahead of its time. In fact it's ahead of OUR time, even, in hardly making an issue out of it at all - it just IS.

4) It captures the climate of the 70s in a manner so sober, you'll remember its unshowy yet authentic feel forever.

5) Lumet's film brings to life the concept of the distorting lens of the media and how different groups with different agendas will turn an outlaw into a hero, with far more efficiency than Oliver Stone's brash, bloated, childish and repetitive Natural Born Killers.

6) Watching this film will illustrate to the younger generations exactly why Al Pacino has earned himself the legendary status he probably no longer would deserve with his performances of the last 10 years alone. **SPOILERS**: Just watch those last ten minutes of him handcuffed against the bonnet of a car, where he doesn't say a word, but speaks volumes with his eyes and his soul just oozing out of every frame at the end of the movie; you'll remember those eyes for as long as you live!

7) Watching this film, you'll realise that firing a gun-shot is a BIG DEAL in real life, and that other films make too much use of gun fire in a highly contrived way.

8) All that tension deriving from pointed guns unable to fire a shot OR move away… you realise Tarantino must've taken notes sometime along the way.

9) No genre is old or done too many times before if it's handled with this amount of freshness, inspiration and talent.

10) Watching Dog Day Afternoon for the third time has filled me with the same amount of wonder at the power of truly inspired but unobtrusive film-making as it did first time round.

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135 out of 165 people found the following review useful:

Pacino's legend.

Author: ChiBron from Aurora, IL
21 February 2005

A brilliant movie, and a mesmerizing Al Pacino. If u thought he was spectacular in GF I, II, and Scarface....then just watch him in Dog Day Afternoon. Quite simply one of the greatest performances in movie history. Definitely my favorite. The depth with which he plays Sonny is such a treat to watch that I lost count of how many times he left me in AWE. There's this indescribable nervous energy to his performance that there's no way he'll leave u NOT feeling sorry for Sonny.

Sadly, for some reason this movie is kinda forgotten when discussing Al's greatest movies/performances. That's because not many people have watched it. So please, if u consider yourself a movie fan, then go rent DDA and watch a fine movie with the legendary Al Pacino performing his art at the absolute peak of his career.

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140 out of 175 people found the following review useful:

D Day for Pacino

Author: MovieAddict2016 from UK
25 February 2004

By the time Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" came around he had already learned to let Al Pacino loose. Forget the holdbacks of "Serpico"; here we get a glimpse into the real Al, the actor who would bring Tony Montana to life in the years to come and the same man who provided Michael Corleone with such heartfelt warmth that was lacking in some of his lesser characters.

There's essentially the Al Pacino as an actor and the Al Pacino as a character, and here he's the character, and it works splendidly. Al Pacino the actor comes into play when he is given a recycled script and a talentless director, which has been happening a lot lately, although fortunately his comparison, De Niro, has been lucky enough to generally avoid these blunders of older-age film-making.

This is based on a true story, like "Serpico," only it's better and more involving. It connects with the audience more than "Serpico" because it doesn't jump through the same old hoops; it goes for the long trek and comes off better than it would have had the team behind it been lazy. The clichés are gone and the originality creeps in early on. Watch Pacino indulge himself in character and let the plot sink in. It's more touching than it seems at first.

Pacino is Sonny Wortzik, a Brooklyn man who takes a bank hostage in order to pay for his "wife's" operation. The wife is actually Leon Shermer (Chris Sarandon who was Oscar-nominated for this, his first role in a mainstream film), Sonny's gay lover who doesn't have the money for a sex operation.

The bank robbery was going to be what one of classic cinema's greatest bad guys once described as a quick "in and out," but Sonny gets held up inside the bank and soon he's all over the news and police are standing outside the building with guns drawn. It's like Denzel's movie only better and more original. Oh, and true. This one actually happened and we can tell.

Sonny's partner in crime, Sal (John Cazale), is worried that he'll be treated as a homosexual by the media outside. His fretting is comic relief and one of the connections between the film and the audience. Charles Durning is the frustrated cop handling the situation. His performance is as subtly convincing as Cavale's.

Pacino's performance is exceedingly excellent, manic and energetic. He'd display this same talent in "Scarface" again eight years later; only he would be bashed by the critics for going over-the-top. (Although they really just had problems with the excessive profanity and violence, just like Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" will soon become a well-known classic and people will laugh when they hear that someone once called it the most violent film ever made.)

There's also one of the best scenes of all time in this movie that rivals Montana's Last Stand in "Scarface" or the Baptism Scene in "The Godfather," which involves Sonny speaking on the phone to his "wife," carefully concealing his motive from any listeners nearby. Watch Pacino delve into character here and you're immediately hooked. We like his character because he seems real and Pacino makes him real, and that's why this will go down as one of the best tour de force performances of all time.

Is this Hollywood trying to ease our culture onto homosexuality and sex change operations? Is Hollywood trying to gradually introduce us to gay characters in the hope that the uptight American families will be increasingly invaded by the images of gay men? No. This is Hollywood showing us a true story, regardless of the homosexuality. Pacino could be playing a frustrated postal worker and it would still work because it all settles down to the fact that the suspense and dramatics of the movie affect us, not the background of its characters.

Sarandon's Oscar nomination was more than worthy; here he displays the smarmy talent that would shine through in his characters in the years to come. Prince Humperdink from "The Princess Bride" is equally memorable but less realistic. Here he seems more real, which is good for this film and would have been quite bad for "Bride." We don't like real characters in fantasy tales, do we?

Lumet, who ruined "Serpico" with his bad editing, out-of-place music, clichéd dialogue/events and unnecessary scenes, directs "Dog Day Afternoon" with style and flair and good pacing and a surprisingly heartfelt sense of emotion and care. This isn't exactly a good example of a perfect motion picture but it's pretty close.

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78 out of 89 people found the following review useful:

great character study and a masterful actors' showcase

Author: kwongers from USA
18 May 2005

Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" is one of the most highly enjoyable and wildly funny movies I've ever seen - smart, sharp, complex, witty (and often quotable) dialogue, and superbly acted. Al Pacino stars as Sonny, an optimistic loser who decides to hold up a bank with his friend Sal (played by the late, great John Cazale) to get money for his lover Leon's sex-change operation.

The film is only worked around a few sequences, and may seem overlong to some, but it works excellently because it is held together by the fantastic acting. Al Pacino is astounding as Sonny, and his work here even eclipses the excellent work he did as Michael Corleone in "The Godfather" (and that's saying something, because I adore that movie and his portrayal). Pacino has the facial tics and the energy and the wide-eyed optimism down pat, and his performance is extremely engaging and entertaining. Take, for example, his scene where he rouses up the crowd against the police by chanting, "Attica! Attica! Put your f---ing guns down!" A lesser actor would have made it insipid, but Pacino makes it oddly poignant and hilarious at the same time. (And he was robbed of his Oscar for his role.) The late John Cazale is also superb as Sal, the dopey-eyed follower, the quiet laid-back calm to Pacino's maniacal energy. It's a less flashier role, but Cazale still brings on all the laughs, especially in his deadpan delivery of the line, "Sonny, they're saying there are two homosexuals in here...I'm not a homosexual."

Frank Pierson won an Oscar for his script for a reason - the dialogue is hilarious, sharp, and witty. Many of the lines in this movie are extremely quotable (and you can check some of them out under "memorable quotes"). This is intelligent writing, in the sense that you will laugh and be moved at the same time.

Great movie! It belongs in your VHS or DVD collection. 10/10

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64 out of 73 people found the following review useful:

Empathic masterpiece

Author: apparentlyblue from United Kingdom
19 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This high-tension thriller captures the true events of one summer afternoon when accomplices Sonny (Pacino) and Sal (Calzale) walk into a Brooklyn bank, and rob it.

Of course not all goes to plan. An hour later they're still inside and the bank is surrounded. Cops, media, crowds of fans and the FBI are each hanging to Sonny's every word – and why? Because he has 9 hostages as pawns, a bank as his board and all the time in the world to think up a strategy. Inside the bank however is a different story. You can't help but sympathise with Sonny (due to Pacino's terrific performance) as the first-time bank robber who's unprepared, out of his depth, and just trying to think up a way out. Even the audience begin to feel the effects of Stockholm Syndrome as Pacino's character gains our affections. The 'villain who's a nice guy at heart' could have been disastrously cliché but Pacino's portrayal is nothing short of brilliance. Even Sal with his morbid disposition is magnetising as his childlike innocence shines through. Calzale was wonderfully cast as this awkward accomplice, wordlessly following Sonny. A huge success combining the skills of Lumet with the talent of Pacino for the second time in Pacino's best role yet. A true story that's compelling and tragic but most of all tangible – and that's what makes it so powerful.

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62 out of 73 people found the following review useful:

Pacino and Lumet at their best!

Author: Hermit C-2 from Marietta, GA, USA
1 June 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Al Pacino has portrayed some memorable characters in some classic movies like 'Serpico,' 'Scent of a Woman,' 'Donnie Brasco' and the three 'Godfather' Films. 'Dog Day Afternoon' and Sonny Wortzik belong high on that list.

As the movie opens, Sonny and his two-man gang are nervously waiting outside a Brooklyn bank which they intend to rob. Sonny has a plan all worked out, but after the robbery begins, it quickly unravels. Not the least dismaying development is that the bank is almost out of cash. Shortly after this revelation, police begin to arrive in numbers that would be able to lay siege to a small country (Wyoming, maybe?) This sets up a hostage situation that lasts the afternoon and late into the night.

One might think this setting might make things a little claustrophobic but director Sidney Lumet has handled this problem before; witness his film 'Twelve Angry Men.' The goings-on in the bank itself are fascinating as the moods and relationships of the hostages and their captors develop and change over the course of the long day. Out on the street the crime scene immediately turns into a circus with thousands of onlookers straining at police lines, news media doing everything they can to get close to the story, and a new busload of police arriving every few minutes.

Great performances are all over the place here. This is a tour-de-force for Pacino, even by his standards, as the bungling crook who has instantly become the biggest media star in the city. Sonny may have blown the first role, but he shines in the second. One of Pacino's "Godfather" brothers, John Cazale is excellent is the less-flashy role as Sonny's partner Sal, definitely not the brains of this operation. Events are soon beyond Sal's comprehension and his subtle performance is wonderful. Charles Durning is super as police lieutenant Moretti who works as hard as he can to keep the situation from spinning totally out of control. He's juggling desperate fugitives in the bank, a crowd growing crazier and crazier, aggressive newspeople, and some of his own cops who are ready to end this thing with a bang. When the FBI shows up, the agent in charge (James Broderick) doesn't even say hello to Moretti. He cooly assesses the situation and decides their plan of action, and from that moment on there is a grim air of fatalism hanging over Sonny and Sal.

There are more twists and turns we won't go into here. This is a great work by Pacino, Lumet, and most of the other actors in the film. I loved it.

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71 out of 92 people found the following review useful:

A spark called Pacino

Author: SoHo from Pristina, Kosovo
2 March 2005

It was so freshening and attractive to see His Majesty, Mr. Al Pacino, in this breathtaking movie of 1970s. The first thing that a discerning eye would notice throughout the film is the undying uniqueness of Pacino's originality. This was just another movie destined to reassuring viewers of Al's status of an icon. The movie itself is endearing and entertaining. Though the movie is supposed to appear like a bank robbing, and in a sense it is, but deep in the heart robbing is simply a way to achieve a totally different goal, of course other than money! It is about affection and mutual caring. It's about what situations a person is ready to embark into in order to show how much he cares for another one. And I guess this is the point of the whole movie, which is stylistically decorated with dozes of sarcasm and pleasantry with sporadic undertones of bravery. The characters are all innocent which innocence seems to relate them to each other. What I deem as very courageous here are the thematic elements, homosexuality. I guess the time when the movie was made the society had still been ruled by prejudiced mentalities that could really ruin this innocuous piece of art. For this, I praise the very daring Sidney Lumet, one of my favorite directors. 10/10

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51 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

Another Masterpiece from the Golden Age of American Cinema

Author: Rathko from Los Angeles
20 June 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

During the late sixties and into the seventies, the bank heist seems to have become a metaphor for the counter culture rebellion. Bank robbers were no longer the villains, but the heroes, fighting against the capitalist establishment like an urban Robin Hood. Dog Day Afternoon is part of that tradition.

Al Pacino is, as ever, brilliant. He is able to bring charisma, charm and vulnerability to the character of Sonny Wortzik in nothing more than a way of walking, or the way he holds a phone. Troubled, insecure, confused, Sonny makes for a lousy bank robber. And yet, when he steps from the relative safety of the bank building and into the street, before a hundred waiting armed police, he changes completely. He becomes a strong, proud, prowling voice of the working class, goading the police, riling the gathered crowd. In referencing the prison massacre at Attica in 1971, he becomes a voice for the urban poor, and it is a powerful and raging voice that contains the potential for victory and success, even when you know it is doomed.

An incredibly powerful work, very much of its time, and all the better for it. The 1970's was a decade when major studios hired actors for their talent, not their looks or teen appeal. When major studios hired writers proud to take on sensitive political and social issues. When major studios financially backed and strongly promoted movies that mattered and said something. Dog Day Afternoon is the product of that system and as such, could never be made today.

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47 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

Al Pacino is brilliant

Author: rbverhoef ( from The Hague, Netherlands
13 June 2003

'Dog Day Afternoon' tells the true story of Sonny (Al Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale). These two guys went into a bank in 1972 in Brooklyn to rob it. They could have been out in five minuted but things went terribly wrong. Instead of a robbery it became a hostage situation. And a media circus as well.

From the first second you will be totally in the movie. Afterwards I wanted to write my review and I was not able to remember how the music was, if there was any. It says something about how much the movie grabs you. The first part is very funny, I laughed a lot of times. The second part is more a drama and a thriller. Great director Sidney Lumet creates a certain atmosphere for the movie that is just right. Pacino in one of his best performances is surrounded by a great supporting cast. He was nominated for an Oscar but didn't win it. He lost it to a guy named Jack Nicholson in a movie called 'One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest'. The chances were probably fifty-fifty and the Oscar went to the better movie, I have to admit that. Still, one of the best performances I have ever seen. With any other actor this movie was a nice one, with him it is a great one.

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50 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

It's just a great movie!

Author: royal_319 from United States
28 February 2005

I've seen this movie and for me it's Al Pacino at his best! The movie has a very simple premise, two guys rob a bank, but everything that can go wrong does. In the beginning the women who work in the bank are afraid, but once the situation escalates into a sideshow, some the women become comfortable with the situation. Basically, the entire movie is in the bank and all types of comedy and drama surrounds it. This is Al Pacino early in his career and for anyone who hasn't seen the movie, I definitely recommend it. Just keep in mind between all the madness you see in the film that this is a true story, and very entertaining!

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