This past week was the 45th anniversary of the classic film Dog Day Afternoon. Let’s delve back into this neo-crime drama to celebrate.
Released on September 21, 1975, Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon is one of the best movies of all time. Based on the true story of John “Sonny” Wojtowicz and his failed attempt at robbing a Brooklyn bank, the film revolves entirely on the day of the robbery while portraying the mishaps both Wojtowicz (Al Pacino) and his partner in crime Sal Naturale (John Cazale) have gone through during the incident.
The movie begins like your typical heist until it reveals that the protagonists were unprepared to rob a bank, paving the way for some hilarious scenes. From one of the robbers deciding to leave in the first few minutes of the heist to Sonny attempting to scare the bank workers, our protagonists have to go through one disastrous accident after another. The situation further complicates when the police get involved and the robbery becomes a mass media event. However, as the film progresses, it becomes a more emotionally driven tale: its humanity begins to shine when it delves into the motives of these robbers. Sonny is leading this heist to not only help his family but also to help pay for his partner’s sex-change operation. The film included one of the earliest representations of transgender women in film.
I was overwhelmed by this movie the first time I saw it. Its claustrophobic nature and fast edits were riveting for me. For example, my opinions on the character of Sonny shifted by the minute. I found myself laughing at the absurdity of the film at one second and then feeling heartbroken by the struggles of the characters right at the next second. The movie’s color palette, its use of Elton John’s Amoreena in the film’s beginning, and its creation of a counterculture atmosphere make it a quintessential 70’s flick, adding so much nuance and personality to this period.
You can watch this incredible Academy Award-winning film on various streaming services, including HBO Max. It’s a must-see movie classic that one enthrall you with its plot, characters, and a riveting young Al Pacino performance.