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Yojimbo's Movie Reviews (2306)

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Dog Day Afternoon 
"Dog Day Afternoon" by Yojimbo
3/4 stars

In the summer of 1972, a Vietnam veteran and an old comrade attempted to rob a Brooklyn bank so he could afford to pay for a sex change operation for his gay lover. When the heist goes awry, the situation soon degenerated into a media circus. This story is definitely a case of fact being stranger than fiction because bizarrely, this is based on a true story. Another classic thriller from Sidney Lumet's long career, this also is one of Al Pacino's defining performances but as is the case with a lot of his work, it's a bit of a one man show. The one note format (unavoidably so because of the source material) really just consists of Pacino talking to the hostages-talking to the police-talking to the hostages etc etc through til the end. All the best scenes involve him dealing with his "family", namely his amusingly awful wife, having his mother talk about embarrassing personal details literally in front of the whole world, and a great turn from Chris Sarandon as his hysterical gay lover. Everyone else, even John Cazale as his partner, gets side-lined and I think this is the only real flaw in the film. That and because the story is told from the point of view of the hostage takers rather than the police, although it does give a familiar story a slightly different spin, it removes a lot of the tension from the situation as you never really feel like the hostages are in any danger. If there was a little more dialogue between Al and some more fleshed out characters, it would have had a little more emotional involvement for the viewer. Having said that, it's still a fascinating period piece, especially considering its roots as a true story and a must for all fans of Pacino.


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