On a normal day in Brooklyn during the seventies, a couple of men decided to rob a bank. Unknown to the audience is their motive for committing this crime until midway through the film when it is discovered that the money was to pay for a sex operation. What a twist! In a time where not many movies were being produced for the main stream public about homosexuality or gender reasignment surgery, this film moved past this taboo and the result was a classic.
The film also makes a reference to a social event that caused some controversy. In one scene we see Sonny (Al Pacino) outside talking to the police while holding a white napkin to demonstrate that he is unarmed while the majority of the police are pointing their weapons right at him. Sonny tells them to put it away and stirs up the crowd by screaming “Attica” which reminded people of the excess force and violations of human rights by officers in Attica Correctional Prison during the riots of 1972.
Overall the movie was well directed and the acting done by Al Pacino and John Cazale was terrific. Pacino showcases his gift for grabbing the attention of the audience and leaves us feeling sympathetic for him. My favorite scene was when Sal (Cazale) was asked about what country he would like to fly to and after a few seconds of thinking he responses “Wyoming.” Smart, funny and questioning social authorities are just a few qualities that make Dog Day Afternoon a refreshing and entertaining film that arose for the New Wave era in Hollywood.