Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Director: Stanley Lumet
My score: five-stars
Personal highlight: “Wyoming”
Favourite character: Pacino’s hair

Still one of my favourite films of. all. time. Considering this was made in the mid 70s, the portrayal of LGBT issues is surprisingly well handled and overall the film gives us an amazing insight into the heavy-handed New York policing which had previously turned public opinion against the cops.

The film deliberately puts us in the perspective of Sonny. We sympathise with him and his efforts to try and juggle all the plates to stop the situation getting out of control. By all intents and purposes he is a criminal bank robber, and yet the more the plot progresses the more we want him to get away with it, despite revelations about his personal life. Here’s a man who has got himself in a situation and is the only one expected to handle the demands of the cops, the hostages, all the while attempting to solve the problem he and Sal have got themselves into. He shows compassion for the hostages, his partner, and both of his wives…

And yet he’s not shown as perfect. Both wives confess to police that Sonny is “a madman” who has previously been aggressive towards them, waved guns in their faces, and otherwise acted irrationally, and yet he’s robbing a bank to give one of them the money for  a life-changing operation.

I wonder if this would have been seen so positively in 1975? Certainly the second wife is kept as a reveal, and there is a change of opinion and mood towards him within the film which I think we are supposed to feel. “Wait is this guy actually a bad guy after all?” And yet the phone conversation between Sonny and Leon is moving and genuine, an emotional high point of the entire film, and surely not just with the modern eye.

Pros: relatively positive trans portrayal, an awesome woman not afraid to give bank robbers, cops and FBI men hell, A+ robber buddies, some great NY accents. The fact that the film proceeds helped real life Leon get her operation. 

Cons: Poor representation of Sonny’s first wife and mother who are little more than comedy parts. Also a lack of title credit for Pacino hair.


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