Dog Day Afternoon – Day Thirty One – #40movies40days
I’d never seen Dog Day Afternoon and decided to watch it in honor of director Sidney Lumet’s passing. The film is a great example of a Power of Idealism crime drama. (I’ll be teaching a Thriller-Crime Drama workshop at New York Law School on April 30).
Robert Berkvist recalled in the New York Times: “While the goal of all movies is to entertain,” Mr. Lumet once wrote, “the kind of film in which I believe goes one step further. It compels the spectator to examine one facet or another of his own conscience. It stimulates thought and sets the mental juices flowing.”
Social issues set his own mental juices flowing, and his best films not only probed the consequences of prejudice, corruption and betrayal but also celebrated individual acts of courage…
…Mr. Lumet (was) “one of the last of the great movie moralists” and “a leading purveyor of the social-issue movie.” Yet Mr. Lumet said he was never a crusader for social change. “I don’t think art changes anything,” he said in The Times interview. So why make movies? he was asked.
“I do it because I like it,” he replied, “and it’s a wonderful way to spend your life.” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/movies/sidney-lumet-director-of-american-classics-dies-at-86.html?_r=1&ref=movies
In Dog Day Afternoon, amateur bank robber Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino), his friend Salvatore “Sal” Naturile (John Cazale), and a second accomplice rob a bank. Their plan immediately goes awry when the second accomplice loses his nerve. He flees the scene. Sonny and Sal then discover that the daily cash pickup has left only $1100 in in the bank.
Sonny takes a number of traveler’s checks. He burns the check register in a waste basket, to prevent the checks from being traced. Smoke billows out a side vent of the building. An insurance agent across the street notices and calls the cops. Within minutes, the building is surrounded by police, as inept as the robbers. Unsure what to do, Sonny and Sal camp out in the bank, holding all the employees hostage. Chaos and high drama ensues.