I watched Dog Day Afternoon for the first time about eight years ago when I discovered the films of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino concurrently through the likes of The Godfather. Since that first watch I’ve seen the movie about once every eighteen months or so and it has become one of my favourite films. For me Dog Day Afternoon has everything I could possibly want. It shows New York at its grimy and dirty height, it’s brilliantly funny and tense and features one of Pacino’s greatest roles. If they could digitally add Scarlett Johansson as one of the bank tellers, I’d watch the film daily.
The movie is based on a true story. Sonny Wortzik (Pacino) and Sal Naturile (John Cazale) walk into a Brooklyn bank on a summer’s day with the idea of robbing it. It isn’t long before things start to go wrong and the robbery turns into a farce. Soon the cops have the bank surrounded and Sonny and Sal are left inside with eight hostages and nowhere to go. The hours roll on and the scene attracts the media and onlookers alike, all of whom want a glimpse of the action. Sonny becomes an anti-hero to the gathering crowd after evoking the memory of the Attica prison riots. As the night draws in Sonny decides his best way out is to arrange for a jet to take him and Sal out of the country, a request which the police begin to arrange.