Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

DailyView: Day 352, Movie 500

Today’s movie achieved a major goal of the DailyView. I had set a goal to reach 500 movies watched during the 365-day DailyView. I had not made it an official goal, but, truthfully, I would have considered it a fail if I had not reached 500. However, that’s not an issue since #500 is Dog Day Afternoon.

Dog Day Afternoon was one of the classic films that I had never seen before and I have to say that it is fantastic.

Directed by Sidney Lumet, Dog Day Afternoon featured a spectacular performance by Al Pacino as bank robber Sonny Wortzik, who, along with his co-conspirator Sal Naturile (John Cazale), attempted to rob the First Brooklyn Savings Bank. Things go awry immediately and what should have been an easy plan turned into a long hostage situation.

Based on a true story, Dog Day Afternoon is filled with themes including the way the media portrays news, the reaction of the public to anti-heroes, LGBTQ + themes, family troubles, police resentment, the price of fame or infamy, and the heartbeat of New York City.

This is such an outlandish situation filled with real life moments. I loved the secondary characters among the hostages. They did not respond the way you would anticipate they would respond and, while none of them got real in-depth development, they were a fascinating group of people.

The film featured a surprising and tender relationship between Sonny and  Leon Shermer (Chris Sarandon) which had to be controversial in a film from the 1970s.

It was also a surprisingly funny movie. There were times that I thought it was going to veer into the realm of parody, however, it was the strength of the performances from Pacino and Charles Durning, as Sergeant Eugene Moretti that kept it from becoming a farce.

It was intriguing how the film turned the criminal Sonny into a character that you could root for. Honestly, the ending of the film made me kind of sad because of that. I do love the fact that we had a real fully developed character as the criminal and not just a bad vs. good situation. Sonny Wortzik and, to a lesser extent, Sal Naturile are complex characters that have a variety of motivations and mannerisms. I should like to shout out Sully Boyar as bank manager Mulvaney, who does a remarkable job in the film as well.

The film was thoroughly entertaining and filled with great performances from amazing characters. The conversation between Sonny and Leon was reportedly mostly ad-libbed and brought such a humanity to what could have been filled with stereotypes, but it was beautifully done.

Dog Day Afternoon was a wonderful film for #500.

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