Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Yesterday, at the Cinematek, we saw this movie with Al Pacino: Dog Day Afternoon.

It is based on a true event: a bank robbery that took place on the 22nd of August 1972, tells the story of Sonny (Al Pacino) and his Sal (John Cazale) who hold up a Brooklyn bank franchise and keep the employees as hostages.

Out of luck, because that afternoon the money had been picked up, Sonny doesn’t find a lot in the vaults. Wanting to do this robbery with the least amount of trouble for anyone, and within 30 minutes (as he figures),things don’t go that way. The cops are outside and had surrounded the place. It was like David and Goliath, except that Goliath was made out of about 7000 cops…

This isn’t just another bank robbery movie… don’t be fooled by it. It has drama, comedy, exiting moments… Al Pacino is really impressive as Sonny. And Sal is a bit creepy. But the way the movie flows, it is worth to see it.

The whole story is based on story of John “Sonny” Wojtowicz and Salvatore Naturile. It is interesting to read the article that the real Wojtowicz has sent to The New York Times in 1975 (and they rejected) in reaction to the movie, which he believes only to be for about 30% right. The article did get published in 1977 in Jump Cut, however.

In it he expresses how he didn’t work with the FBI to betray Sal, that they killed Sal (only 18 years old) when he was apparently already harmful, that the way they depicted his wife was a farce, but that the actors (and especially Al Pacino and Chris Sarandon, who he believed they should get an Academy Award for their portrayal) put down a stunning performance.

If you wish to read the full article yourself: “Real Dog Day hero tells his story” by John Wojtowicz . It was published in Jump Cut, no. 15, 1977, pp. 31-32.

I liked the movie because it was exiting, funny at times, intense (Pacino!) and after leaving the theatre, I got a sense of “that I enjoyed watching”; even though the tragic events depicted. The part where they go huddled together from inside the bank towards the limo airport car, I found especially amusing to watch.

If you are interested to watch some similarity with the movie and the real photos taken at the robbery, you can visit this link which leads to a blog entry. You can see picture comparisons between Sonny and Pacino, Ernest/Léon and Sarandon, Sal and Cazale, and photos from the crowd and cops outside the bank. I found it interesting to see (and by chance, I’ve learned about another blog as well…)

As a final treat, I give you a video with an excerpt. Enjoy!

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