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Dog Day Afternoon - Review

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Buy the DVD Dog Day Afternoon

(Dir: Sidney Lumet)

Reviewed by: Stuart Evans - Conflict Scripts

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Sidney Lumet's outstanding masterpiece ‘Dog Day Afternoon' is a timeless classic, which provides us with what could possibly be Al Pacino's finest role to date. Both Lumet and Pacino, who later collaborated on Serpico, successfully take you on one man's journey for what he believes is justice in a story based on true events.

Sonny (Al Pacino), a confused and somewhat highly-strung bisexual, decides to rob a bank in the hope of raising some cash for his boyfriends sex change operation. He recruits loose canon Sal (John Cazale), against his better judgement, to aid him in his naïve attempt for justice. When the two inexperienced robbers finally build up the courage to hold up the bank they don't account for the salesman across the street foiling their crime within minutes of them entering the building.

The next thing the robbers know they are surrounded by the NYPD. There are sharp shooters on rooftops, SWAT teams on the ground and enough firepower to take the whole building down in seconds. Sonny and Sal are now facing a sticky situation involving the hostages, law enforcement officers waiting for them to make the inevitable slip up and a hostile public who are actually beginning to side with the robbers.

What this movie manages to show with some effectiveness is a form of logic, or lack of in Sonny's case, where people believe unjust decisions should be met with new means to beat the "system". You warm to Sonny because he is one of those people, although slightly misguided. It's apparent in Sonny's somewhat comedic efforts to rob the bank, that he doesn't really want to be here doing this but he feels he has to, it's the only way. As the public become intrigued and supportive of Sonny you find yourself joining in the argument; why in the land of the free, do you not get the complete freedom of your lives which, when all is said and done, seem to remain in the control of governments and officials?

John Cazale (The Godfather Part's I & II, The Deer Hunter) comes to the fore in the best performance of his career. Lumet works well with both the actors and the characters in which they portray adding to the convincing reality of a society in which we live, probing both circumstances and arguments, which still exist to this day.

Stuart Evans

Copyright © Conflict Scripts 2004

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