the Thinking Chicks Guide to Movies

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Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Reviewed on 2011 January 11

A great ’70s flick, based on a true story about a bank heist that turned into a three-ring circus in the days before YouTube.

Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale) have a goal in mind: They’re going to knock over a bank to get enough scratch to pay for a sex change operation for Sonny’s lover, Leon (Chris Sarandon). A goal they have; a plan, not so much. The bank is soon surrounded by a ton of cops and apparently half the people in New York who had nothing better to do that August day, but neither Sonny nor Sal are going to give up.

Director Sidney Lumet supposedly let the actors improvise a great deal of their dialogue, and it worked here. The interactions between Sonny, Sal and their hostages is often brilliant, and wait till Sal is asked where on Earth he’d like to go. The little details help here too; I love the shot of the crowds running like sheep towards the bank and the policeman whose ’70s hair is so bad it looks like he’s wearing a marmoset on his head. After watching the movie, do a Google search on Ernest Aaron. Notable for being the only Al Pacino movie where I’ve seen him looking nervous.

Four chocolate morsels. One of the reasons the ’70s were part of Hollywood’s Second Golden Age.


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