Dog Day Afternoon is a 1975 Sidney Lumet film starring Al Pacino as Sonny Wortzik and John Cazale as Sal, his partner. This film is based on Real Life.On the hottest day of the year, three men hold up a bank. What should have been a quick in-and-out robbery turned into an hours long stand off that becomes crazier as the crowds - and media attention - grow. Despite the simple plot, this film covers a wide variety of themes, from ideas about gender and personality, to Stockholm and Lima syndrome.Not to be confused with the heartwarming and feel-good 2011 Heroic FantasyAnime called Dog Days. For a Race Lift remake starring Denzel Washington, see John Q.
Sonny is snappish, crude, and impatient, but the hostages and the viewer alike can't help warming to him. For one thing, he steadfastly refuses to go near the Villain Ball, refraining from any act of wanton cruelty toward the hostages even when anonymous callers urge him to take advantage fo the situation — but even more so, he's just so urgently human that his affable side inevitably shows through. (We do hear stories from Leon portraying his past actions in a not-at-all affable light, but the reliability of that source is questionable.)
Sal also qualifies, though to a much lesser extent since he's definitely pretty creepy even while relaxing with the hostages. That said, Maria gives him her rosary at the airport as a sincere present, so he must have made a relatively favorable impression as well.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: The LGBT slogan "Out of the closets and into the streets" is translated into Dutch as "Uit de toiletten, in het licht" (Out of the toilets, into the light).
Briefcase Blaster: Sal smuggled the Smith and Wesson M76 into the bank inside a briefcase. Likewise, Sonny smuggled the M1 Carbine inside a birthday present. Stevie, however, simply hid the revolver in his pocket.
CIA Evil, FBI Good: FBI evil, local cops good. Mind you, Sonny himself would call them all evil — he constantly accuses the local Detective Moretti of trying to con him — but it's never clear how much of this is just Sonny being paranoid, and Moretti gives the impression of trying to play the situation as honestly as possible. The same definitely can't be said for FBI agent Sheldon, who (though still acting on the side of justice) quite plainly deceives or attempts to deceive Sonny on several occasions... and it's he who introduces the notion to Sonny that the two bank robbers are not necessarily heading for the same fate.
Cloud Cuckoolander: Sal, who when asked which country he'd like to go to responds with "Wyoming."
Dawson Casting: Cazale was in his 30s when he played Sal, who in Real Life was barely out of his teens. Lumet didn't want to cast Cazale at first due to the obvious age discrepancy, but Cazale gave too good a performance.
Downer Ending: Bank robbers or not, the story ends tragically both in real life and fiction.
Friendly Enemy: Despite still having weapons trained on them, the bank staff spend a lot of time in the film making casual conversation with their captors. At one point, Sonny even lets one teller handle his rifle. Likewise, despite Sonny distrusting Detective Moretti and Moretti wanting Sonny behind bars, the two are on mostly reasonable terms until an FBI agent is put in charge.
Heat Wave: When the robbery takes place. Problem was, the film was made during winter, forcing the cast to suck on ice cubes and run about in summer clothes.
Mama Bear: Head-teller Sylvia, AKA "The Mouth" is a minor example who does not harm or threaten to harm anyone for intimidating her co-workers, but initially scolds Sonny for using foul language, chastises the police for manhandling an asthmatic hostage, and later willingly remains a hostage so as to keep the other younger bank tellers calm.
Mistaken for Gay: A newscaster says the crime is being perpetrated by two homosexuals. Sal is not pleased.
Police Brutality: The huge number of police officers surrounding Sonny lets him invoke the excessive use of force by New York State Police during the 1971 Attica Prison riot, leading to the famous chant to get the crowd on his side.
Stupid Crooks: Even if the robbery had gone exactly as planned, Sonny and Co. surely would have been caught almost immediately: they don't wear gloves, don't wear masks, and call each other by their real names in front of the bank staff. Sonny even makes sure to let the tellers know that he's a Vietnam veteran and a former bank teller, just in case the police might want to check that angle out.
Throw It In: Much of the dialogue was ad-libbed or improvised, most notably "ATTICA! ATTICA!" Al Pacino also didn't know that John Cazale was going to say "...Wyoming?" when asked what foreign country he wanted to escape to, and his reaction is genuine.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Stevie, the third bank robber who chickened out about 5 minutes into the robbery. Did he go home and start acting like nothing happened? Did Sonny rat on him? Was he the one who informed the cops in the first place?
Word Salad Title: "Dog Day Afternoon" doesn't make sense unless you know that "dog days" refers to the hottest days of summer. The film takes place during a heat wave.
Wrong Genre Savvy: After nearly being ambushed, Sonny decides to stop trusting the cop who was negotiating with him, thinking the higher-ups will be more likely to get him a deal and less likely to try and put him down. This is proven wrong on several levels.