One of the worst pulled-off heists ever in film!
To get money for his gay lover’s sex-change operation, Sonny (Al Pacino) — who’s married with kids — teams up with Sal (John Cazale) to rob a New York bank on a scorching-hot summer day. The stickup goes awry when the press gets wind of the circus sideshow-esque story.
To actually know that this is actually happened is a lot more upsetting than what this movie gives us. To actually think that this whole hold-up went for almost a whole day is pretty sad, but also cinema gold!
The one great thing about this film is its wonderful and easy-minded direction from one of cinema’s best, Sidney Lumet. He does a great job at balancing together suspense, violence, humor, and a great little character study. At the beginning we just think of these people as horrible and evil criminals. But by the end, we start to understand that they are just like people same as you and me, that were put into a situation that only took crime to get out of.
This is structured like a typical heist film, but its really a portrait of a scene of a community that all comes together around this horrible incident. The writing is rich with wonderful characters and one of the main anti-establishment works of the generation. The writing shows how this man Sonny has love and compassion for other people, and is really not a horrible guy.
The film breaks down all the stereotypes that all these mad-men that create hold-ups are crazy killers. This shows they are not and most likely shows how the media swerves around it looking for the best story they can make out of the actual facts.
The one thing that threw me off a lot was that by the end of the film, I felt like it dived more into the homosexual stereotypes that were around in the 1970s. It wasn’t that this was horrible, it just felt like it wasn’t quite needed if supposed to be treated so huge after all.
Pacino, honestly gives one of the better performances of his career here. He makes this highly original character into someone just totally and utterly believable. You feel the pain and aggression he feels, and I related to him so much more than I what I thought I would have. The supporting cast does a great job with Chris Sarandon, John Cazale, and Charles Durning.
Consensus: Dog Day Afternoon shows an anti-establishment look on a real life event, and makes it more genuine, and heartfelt, backed by an amazing performance from Al Pacino.