144 - Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

After a robbery goes wrong, the whole affair becomes a circus sideshow.

Sonny (Al Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale) walk into a bank in Brooklyn expecting a quick robbery where noone gets hurt and they can make a quick few dollars.

Little do they know that luck is not on their side and after being spotted by a local police officer, they soon have a troop of officers and the FBI to negotiate with as well.

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
Dog Day Afternoon is based on a true story but - according to the real bank robber John Wojtowicz - it is only 30% true. Bizarrely though, everything that makes Dog Day Afternoon a right hoot appears to be factual.

Despite this though, the whole story seems completely ludicrous. How two utter incompetents manage to create such a mess within the bank, the police force and, in some ways even society itself, seems utterly unbelievable.

Director Sidney Lumet opts to give the film a documentary feel, probably because of the contemporary nature of the film's events. To achieve this effect he only uses theatrical music during the opening and closing credits. On another note, he does well to keep control over a situation that could easily have overwhelmed a lesser director keeping the film both believable and highly entertaining.

Because of the raucous nature of the story it transfers brilliantly onto the big screen. Det. Sgt. Eugene Moretti (Charles Durning) is clearly the good guy within the film although secretly you'll be rooting for Pacino to somehow convince everyone to let him walk free. As the film progresses however it seems that both Pacino and his character gain in confidence as he parades around lapping up the limelight and creating a farce while John Cazale's dark and mysterious Sal is a welcome contrast to give some more human feelings to the situation.

Dog Day Afternoon is simply brilliant and highly recommended.