Dog Day Afternoon
The robbery should have taken 10 minutes.
4 hours later, the bank was like a circus slideshow.
8 hours later, it was the hottest thing on live
12 hours later, it was all history. And it's
In August, 1972, Sonny Wortzik robbed a
bank. 250 cops, the
F.B.I., 8 hostages and 2,000
onlookers will never forget what took place.
The Most Bizarre Bank Siege Ever.
Anything can happen during the dog days of summer.
On August 22nd, 1972, everything did.
*Taglines for 'Dog Day Afternoon' taken
...''Dog Day' was the first
gay character you played. How did you come to understand him?"
...."By making him as human and complicated as I could."
- Al Pacino
**From 'Pacino's Will' By Lawrence Grobel for Premiere Magazine,
December 2004/January 2005.
..."Based on an actual event in Brooklyn one hot summer day,
Al Pacino is Sonny, who holds up a bank with his dim-witted friend Sal (John Cazale), only to see his plans literally go up
in smoke when the police, led by Detective Moretti (Charles Durning), surround the building. A hostage situation ensues
and in the course of a long hot afternoon and sticky night, the area surrounding the bank becomes a media circus, Sonny gains
many loyal "fans" in the crowd of onlookers, and many revelations are made about what motivated Sonny to commit such a daring
"Part comedy and part tragedy, Dog Day Afternoon plays
up on these two aspects. It is hilarious to see Sonny and Sal bumble their way through the robbery, their tribulations
with the mundane (one hostage wants to use the bathroom, and soon they all do), and their comical interactions with the hostages.
However, as the situation drags into the late evening, both the police and the bank robbers become more desperate to end the
"Dog Day Afternoon is a very entertaining and
fun-to-watch movie that deservedly picked up several Academy Award nominations in 1975 for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best
Supporting Actor and was awared Best Original Screenplay..."
Movie Review by Anthony Leong, 1997
...."Sonny, the bank robber who takes charge, played by Al Pacino
as a compulsive and most complex man. He's street-smart, he fought in Vietnam, he's running the stick-up in order to
get money for his homosexual lover to have a sex-change operation. He's also married to a chubby and shrill woman with
three kids, and he has a terrifically possessive mother...Sonny isn't explained or analyzed - just presented. He becomes
one of the most interesting modern movie characters...
"Sonny and his zombie-like partner, Sal, hit the bank at closing
time...The stick-up is discovered, the bank is surrounded, the live TV mini-cams line up across the street, and Sonny is in
the position, inadvertently, of having taken hostages. Sal (John Cazale) is very willing to shoot them, a factor in
all that follows....
"The movie has an irreverent, quirky sense of humor, and we get
some notion of the times we live in when the bank starts getting obscene phone calls - and the giggling tellers breathe heavily
into the receiver. There's also...an attempt to take a documentary look at the ways police and banks try to handle situations
like this. And through it all there's that tantalizing attraction of instant celebrityhood, caught for an instant when
a pizza deliveryman waves at the cameras and shouts, '"Hey, I'm a star!'"
Excerpts from a review by Roger Ebert, January 1, 1975.
day really does stand out for me. In Dog Day Afternoon, when he did the back-to-back phone call with his male wife and
then his female wife, that was one of the most extraordinary pieces of film acting I've ever seen. I had two cameras
side by side so he could play the two calls as one continuous scene, even though they ran over fourteen minutes. The
level of despair he revealed is obviously a part of him, you can't portray it if you don't know it. He opened up a pit
about that human being, a place where that man was, that was so devastating. It was so profoundly moving that anyone
could even be in that state and still be alive. It just became a very important moment to me."
- Sidney Lumet, director of "Dog Day Afternoon," "Serpico"
From Daily Variety Golden Globes Stand-Alone Special Issue,
January 16, 2001, 'Working With Pacino' David S. Cohen.
..." John Cazale, who's short career included five masterpieces
- The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon and The Deer Hunter, died of bone cancer
on March 12, 1978. He was 42.
"Born on August 12, 1935 in Boston, he studied drama at Oberlin
College and Boston University. He moved to New York City and worked as a messenger at Standard Oil, where he met another
aspiring actor, Al Pacino. 'When I first saw John, I instantly thought he was so interesting,' recalls Pacino.
'Everybody was always around him because he had a very congenial way of expressing himself.'
"While living together in a communal house in Provincetown, Mass.,
Cazale and Pacino were cast in a play, Israel Horovitz's The Indian Wants the Bronx. The production, which
transferred to Off Broadway in 1968, featured Cazale as an East Indian harassed by a hood played by Pacino. Both actors
won Obies. Cazale's award also recognizd his work in Horovitz's Line, which attracted the attention of Godfather
casting director Fred Roos, who suggested him to director Francis Ford Coppola....
"For Pacino's next lead role as a Brooklyn Bank robber in 1975's
docudrama Dog Day Afternoon, Pacino wanted Cazale to play his partner. 'When Al first suggested John, I thought
he was crazy, because the real guy was very different physically,' remembers director Sidney Lumet. 'Then I met John,
and I was just bowled over by him. You knew you were in the presence of an extraordinary talent....'
"Returning to the stage, Cazale played Angelo in a 1976 Central
Park production of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure -- and fell in love with his little-known 27-year-old co-star,
Meryl Streep. Before they could marry, Cazale was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and Streep stayed by his side.
'I've hardly ever seen a person so devoted to someone who is falling away like John was,' says Pacino. 'To see her in
that act of love for this man was overwhelming....'
"Aware of the actor's illness, director Michael Cimino cast...Cazale...as
a cowardly steel-mill worker in his Vietnam epic, The Deer Hunter. Streep also took a role in the film as a
silently suffering domestic-abuse victim...so she could be near Cazale on location. Five months after the film wrapped,
Cazale died. 'I was so close that I hadn't noticed his deterioration...'John's death came as a shock to me because I
didn't expect it....'
'"It was always easy working with John,' Pacino says. 'He
was the most giving actor I've ever worked with, the most involved and sensitive....'
'"All I ever wanted to do was work with John for the rest of
my life,' Pacino says. 'He was my acting partner.'"
Excerpts from "Unfortunate Son" Entertainment Weekly, 2/21/2003
by Bruce Fretts