Tuesday, August 2, 2011
DOG DAY AFTERNOON
(September 1975, U.S.)
Ladies and gentlemen, once again, we now return you to my favorite actor of all time, the great Al Pacino, as he entertains us all by screaming out the one word that's made him just as famous as his character Michael Corleone..."ATTICA!".
For the benefit of those who don't know, the events of the late director Sidney Lumet's DOG DAY AFTERNOON are based on an actual bank robbery that took place in Brooklyn on August 22, 1972. To fully appreciate the circumstances surrounding the robbery and those who perpetrated it, one must consider the time at which it happened; an era of thick and extremely heavy opposition to the Vietnam war and a general "anti-establishment" position by many American citizens. Like Pacino's Sonny, the real bank robber, John Wojtowicz, was, in fact, a homosexual and was, in fact, robbing the bank in order to pay for a sex change operation for his male lover. By today's standards, all of this might seem about as shocking as Saturday morning children's TV, but back in 1972, one can appreciate how horrifying it must have sounded and how much twisted fun the media must have had with it. There is also an incredible point of irony in that the real John Wojtowicz had based much of his plan for the robbery from having just seen THE GODFATHER that very day. Three years later, it's star Al Pacino would play the lead character of Sonny. Wow.
But I think I've discussed enough of the facts. Let's move on with fiction. Al Pacino (particularly in his younger years) is exactly what you would expect in this film - a commander of intense drama and dialogue, and yes, we get to hear him yell quite a bit, too. And as I've previously mentioned more than once, nothing puts a big smile on my face more than listening to Pacino yell his head off. But when you study his character of Sonny carefully, you can see that despite taking on the role of criminal, he possesses a longing to not only love as best he can, but to occassionally try and do the right thing, too, whether it's pizzas for his hostages or trying to release the one with diabetes. As bank robbers, Sonny and his partner Sal (played by the late John Cazale) seem like complete incompetent schmucks compared to those you might watch in today's modern heist films. Lumet seems almost less interested in showing us the bank robbers here and asks us more to concentrate on the men themselves, particulary Sonny's ability to compensate for his incompetence by shwoing off his unexpected folk-hero charisma. It works for me because I do concentrate and I can feel the anguish these men are going through. Because as Sonny repeatedly puts it, "I'm dyin' here!".
Favorite line or dialogue:
Sonny: "Kiss me."
Sgt. Moretti: "What?"
Sonny: " Kiss me. When I'm being fucked, I like to get kissed a lot."