Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon

Dog Day Afternoon is a 1975 film directed by Sidney Lumet that starred Al Pacino and John Cazale. Distributed by Warner Bros., the film tells the story of two men, Sonny and Sal, who decide to rob a bank on a hot summer New York day. Dog Day Afternoon is considered to be part of the New Hollywood era, in which the film went against several of the rules from the Production Code.

The Production Code (1930-1968) was a set of censorship rules that governed the production of United States motion picture. These set of rules were completely abolished in 1968 and replaced by the MPAA film rating system. When the Production Code was no longer in power, directors took advantage of this and created “new” films which could appeal to a more younger and hipper audience. Dog Day Afternoon is an example of this transition. One of the rules in the Production Code was not to show any methods of crime. This film is solely based on crime, robbing a bank. The majority of the story takes place in a Brooklyn bank in which we get to know Sonny and figure out his motive. The Production Code did not allow any references to homosexuality. This comes into play in Dog Day Afternoon once we realize Sonny is a homosexual. The reason why Sonny is robbing a bank is because he needs money for his lover’s sex-change operation. During the Production Code, homosexuality or anything that had to do with sex was very taboo. This film definitely broke the barrier once we find out that Sonny is gay. Lastly, The Production Code also believed that the audience should not feel sympathetic or thrown to the side of crime. However, this film is based on a true story and once we realize that Sonny is first time crook who is robbing a bank to help his lover with a very personal matter, the audience feels sympathy for him although he is still committing a very serious crime.

Dog Day Afternoon is a great example of New Hollywood, in which it showed many elements that was once forbidden in the United States. Overall, this film was great to watch in which Al Pacino did an excellent portrayal of a crook. I would definitely recommend it.

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