Sydney Lumet is a well-represented director on the list. He’s got four films that appear, and all of them are winners. Surprisingly, I had yet to see Dog Day Afternoon; I had figured it to be one of those classical films I had just never gotten around to viewing. Well, thank you TCM for the opportunity to finally lay this one to rest. This is a smart, wildly entertaining train wreck, in a good way, that grabs your interest and refuses to let it go.
Starring Al Pacino and the late and oft-revered John Cazale, Dog Day Afternoon is the tale of two would-be bank robbers, Sonny and Sal, as their robbery goes from bad to worse, and they end up in a hostage situation with seemingly no way out. Amazingly, Sonny becomes an anti-establishment icon, and the crowds cheer him on every chance they get. Lumet keeps the film in a New York mindset, shooting it in crystal clear vision and keeping the focus on the script and the events happening instead of the shiny baubles of cinematography. Al Pacino is nearly unrecognizable from his Godfather roles, giving a frenzies and neurotic performance as the hapless lead robber Sonny, and John Cazale pulls equal weight as his partner in crime, Sal. The real dynamite here is the story, and the script that pulls the story along, always keeping interesting things happening, always keeping the story moving forward. Real impressive stuff here, and it never fails to be entertaining.
This ended up losing Best Picture to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which is sad, because this film easily could’ve won it any other year. I’m not really sure what else to say about this one, other than to see it if you get the chance. Even if you don’t, this is one to make the time to see; it’s that good. Al Pacino is fantastic, the film itself is great in every regard; this is just can’t miss cinema, right here. Sidney Lumet officially has my respect, and I’ll be looking forward to the last film on the list from him I have yet to see. I hope it’s as entertaining as this.
Arbitrary Rating: 9/10