Directed by: Sidney Lumet
Written by: Frank Pierson
Starring: Al Pacino, John Cazale and Sully Boyar
Based on the true events of a bank robbery carried out by a couple of amateurs in Brooklyn, Dog Day Afternoon stands as one of the greatest crime films of the 70s. Featuring an electric performance by Al Pacino (the role having been written especially forThe Godfather star), this deftly written and directed film gives multiple angles to a small-time bank robbery that speaks volumes on crime as portrayed through the lens of the media and the public eye.
Sonny (Pacino) is robbing the bank for the first time in his life. Botching it within the first few minutes of the heist, Sonny is forced to keep the petrified female tellers at bay, the manager under his thumb, and the police that surround the building under his control. With the help of his unstable partner, Sal (Cazale), Sonny must go to desperate lengths to get out of his failed robbery alive.
Unlike a straight crime film, this is one where everything goes wrong. We’ve seen it in films like Reservoir Dogs, Snatch, and The Usual Suspects pick up on the same genre conventions in later years, but as a stand out in its time and genre, Dog Day Afternoon combines a quirky and absurd sense of humor with a story that is both compelling in its character motivations as well as its contextual background.
With Pacino giving one of the best performances of his career, and a narrative structure that keeps you laughing and tense through to the end, Dog Day Afternoon makes the best of a sticky situation that seems impossible to get out of.