Dog Day Afternoon is a popular film from the 1970s that was directed by Sidney Lumet, who was a shining star after directing "12 Angry Men". The movie was written based on several articles about a man named John Wojtowicz, who decided to rob a New York City bank in order to get money for his lover's sex change operation. Although he failed and was arrested, he received a stipend of the profits from the film, which allowed his lover to get a sex change operation.
The movie begins with Sonny, Sal, and Stevie, the bank robbers, arriving at a small bank and going inside. Unfortunately for them, everything goes downhill from there. They start the robbery with plans to get out of the bank as soon as possible, but end up being stuck inside and having to take everyone hostage after the police show up outside.
Sonny is played by Al Pacino, who reportedly had a nervous breakdown during the movie because he was working too much. His accomplice, Sal, is played by John Cazale and his other accomplice, Stevie, is played by Gary Springer. Some of the hostages include Sylvia and Jenny, who are played by Penelope Allen and Carol Kane, respectively.
Since nearly all of the movie takes place inside and in front of a single building, there aren't a lot of sets in this film. The bank isn't a luxurious one, rather a small one in a dingy neighborhood. Most of the scenery is shown when they go to the airport in an attempt to escape the country, which provides a great set.
The soundtrack is virtually non-existent and consists of only two songs. The lack of music actually seems to help the movie since it is driven by suspense and dialog. Plus, it makes the movie seem more realistic and the user feels like they are actually there inside the bank rather than being distracted by music.
The acting is very good, especially Al Pacino's. We can just feel his exhaustion and stress as he watches everything fall apart around him. He plays the role with incredible emotion and vigor that really shows the desperate position that his character is in. John Cazale plays a much more quiet character, but a very interesting one as well. The hostages do a good job of personalizing the situation and relating to the robbers, despite being relative unknown actors.
Overall, this movie is one of the many Al Pacino classics and also features one of the few performances by John Cazale. It was a classic in the 1970s, and still is today, although it is lesser known. If you get a chance to watch this film, I highly recommend it.