Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino) and his mate Sal (John Cazale) walk into a bank in Brooklyn and hold it up. And then things go wrong, pretty quickly. As Sonny negotiates the release of the prisoners for safe passage out of the country, the staff start to see him as a gentle person rather than a criminal. Policeman Moretti (Charles Durning) is attempting to control the situation within the bank as well as the growing crowd outside. It’s a crazy hot day, and when it is revealed that Sonny has held up the bank to get money for a sex change operation for his lover, Leon (Chris Sarandon), things get even crazier.
This is a fabulous performance; it is Pacino’s best performance, it is well scripted, very natural and, especially given it is a true story, very believable. I remember seeing this years ago after first seeing a documentary on the actual event; this time, I watched the special features documentary on the making of the film. Fascinating.
Dog Day Afternoon won an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Frank Pierson) and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Al Pacino), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Chris Sarandon), Best Director (Sidney Lumet) and Best Film Editing.