Dog Day Afternoon [1975]

A gripping true crime yarn, a juicy slice of overheated New York atmosphere, and a splendid showcase for its young actors, Dog Day Afternoon is a minor classic of the 1970s. The opening montage of New York street life (set to Elton John's lazy "Amoreena") establishes the oppressive mood of a scorching afternoon in the city with such immediacy that you can almost smell the garbage baking in the sun and the water from the hydrants evaporating from the sizzling pavement. Al Pacino plays Sonny, who, along with his rather slow-witted accomplice Sal (John Cazale, familiar as Pacino's Godfather brother Fredo), holds hostages after a botched a bank robbery. Sonny finds himself transformed into a rebel celebrity when his standoff with police (including lead negotiator Charles Durning) is covered live on local television. The movie doesn't appear to be about anything in particular, but it really conveys the feel of wild and unpredictable events unfolding before your eyes, and the whole picture is so convincing and involving that you're glued to the screen. An Oscar winner for original screenplay, Dog Day Afternoon was also nominated for best picture, actor, supporting actor (Chris Sarandon, as a surprise figure from Sonny's past), editing, and director (Sidney Lumet of Serpico, Prince of the City, The Verdict, and Running on Empty). --Jim Emerson

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Sonny:
I'm robbing a bank because they got money here. That's why I'm robbing it.

TV Anchorman:
No, what I mean is why do you feel you have to steal for money? Couldn't you get a job?

Sonny:
Uh, no. Doing what? You know if you want a job you've got to be a member of a union. See, and if you got no union card you don't get a job.

TV Anchorman:
What about non-union occupations?

Sonny:
What's wrong with this guy? What do you mean non-union, like what? A bank teller? You know how much a bank teller makes a week? Not much. A hundred and fifteen to start, right? Now are you going to live on that? A got a wife and a couple of kids, how am I going to live on that? What do you make a week?

TV Anchorman:
Well I'm here to talk to you Sonny...

Sonny:
Well I'm talking to you. We're entertainment, right? What do you got for us?

TV Anchorman:
Well what do you want to get for it? Do you expect to be paid because...

Sonny:
No, I don't want to be paid, I don't need to be paid. Look, I'm here with my partner and nine other people, see. And we're dying, man. You know? You're going to see our brains on the sidewalk, they're going to spill our guts out. Now are you going to show that on television? Have all your housewives look at that? Instead of As The World Turns? I mean what do you got for me? I want something for that.

TV Anchorman:
Sonny, you could give up?

Sonny:
Give up? Right. Have you ever been in prison?

TV Anchorman:
No!

Sonny:
No! Well let's talk about something you fucking know about, okay? How much do you make a week? That's what I want to hear. Are you going to talk to me about that?

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