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Drama - Crime

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)


Duration 2h 5m Rating (UK) X
Source of story A Life Magazine article “The Boys in the Bank” by P.F. Kluge, about a real bank robbery which took place in 1972.
Director Sidney Lumet
Writers/Script Frank Pierson
Starring John Cazale, Al Pacino, Charles Durning, Lance Henriksen, Dominic Chianese, Chris Sarandon, Penelope Allen,

Elevator Pitch: Three young men enter a bank in Brooklyn and hold it up with a couple for firearms. Unfortunately for them there is very little money in the safe, but Sonny, the leader decides to take the traveller’s cheques. He burns the register of the documents which results in the fire alarms going of  and attention from outside results in the arrival of the police. The robbers, now two, since one has run away, hold the staff hostage. The results in hours of exchanges with the police all viewed by an increasingly large crowd who seem to be on the side of the robbers. But the FBI take over, and for Sonny and Sal everything becomes more difficult.

Content: There is no nudity, sex or drinking aand just a bit of smoking. Sal is taciturn mostly just sitting silently holding a machine gun. Sonny is volatile and has frequent noisy exchanges with the policeman in charge, to the enjoyment of the crowd. There are medical emergencies which are dealt with. The police wheel up Sonny’s transgender partner, his estranged wife and his mother but Sonny sticks to his guns demanding a car, and a plane which are eventually provided, but we know that the FBI have an agenda.

A View: This film is 45 years old in 2020, but we should remember that the screenplay won an Oscar and it is in Roger Ebert’s Top 100 Best Films. Also gained a 95% approval on Rotten Tomatoes. It is full of tension as we gradually side with the robbers and is laugh out loud funny at times.  It is, in its way, a perfect film so well worth watching for the moderate cost of a download.

Additional Info: The studio hired 300 extras to be the crowd who respond to what is happening from the end of the street, their numbers being swollen by the public, who accepted informal instruction from those being paid to be there.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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