Back Seat Producers Season 07 Shows

BSP Episode 233: Dog Day Afternoon

This is the first in the Summer Movie Series

Release date:  9/21/1975

Warner Bros.

Directed by

  • Sidney Lumet

Produced by

  • Martin Bregman
  • Martin Elfand

Screenplay by

  • Frank Pierson

Based on “The Boys in the Bank” (Life magazine article)

  • P. F. Kluge
  • Thomas Moore


Sonny Wortzik

  • Al Pacino

Sal Naturile

  • John Cazale

Sgt. Eugene Moretti

  • Charles Durning

Leon Shermer

  • Chris Sarandon


Before the hosts get into the movie review, they talk about a few documentaries they’ve recently seen.  Tony saw “The Other F-Word,” in which a number of former punk rockers, who are now fathers, are interviewed.  Jill watched one on PBS that covered the evolution of Pearl Jam, called “Pearl Jam Twenty.”  She also saw “The Woodmans,” about a family of artists and the aftermath after their photographer daughter killed herself… each one highly recommended.

The hosts review:

Darrell hadn’t seen the movie in a long time and found it refreshing to see again.  He also thought that Al Pacino completely dominated this film.  Thirty-seven years later, this film is still very watchable and very enjoyable.  Jill thought that Pacino brought the character of Sonny to an almost heroic stature, and she liked the conflict between the general populace and the “establishment.”  Tony thought the acting was fantastic; Pacino, Cazale, Sarandon, the bank staff, everything worked, and everyone was good.

They liked the opening scene, how it showed the juxtaposition of the grimy, rundown neighborhoods of New York and the more suburban areas.  Darrell mentioned that this is a Sidney Lumet theme, to show these stark differences.

Even though Sonny is robbing a bank, the character is played out in a way that the audience felt bad for Sonny, how his life is falling apart around him, and how all Sonny wanted to do was to take care of the people he loved and he wasn’t able to.

Jill liked “The Mouth” character, the head teller, who was the epitome of a stereotypical head-strong, opinionated New York woman.  Tony liked how she remained strong throughout the bank robbery and hostage situation, always making sure that “her girls” were taken care of and safe.  They also all agreed that the theme of this movie could play out today and be every bit as relevant.

Tony brought up one part of the film that he wasn’t sure if he liked or not… the scenes that kept cutting back to the airport and preparing the plane for Sonny and Sal’s escape.  Jill said it was to build up the hope that they might actually pull of their heist and escape, but Tony could not put his finger on what didn’t work for him.

The hosts talked about Al Pacino for a few minutes, how he controls his emotions within his characters, how his subtle movements show more than dialogue can.

Darrell brought up an interesting point in the contrast between Sonny and Sal as the day went on.  Sonny became more and more disheveled, the heat of the day gets to him, but Sal never seemed affected, in the physical sense.  He didn’t even appear to break into a sweat, even though every other person in the bank was covered in sweat.

Darrell also talked a little bit about Sidney Lumet’s directorial style, the fact that he started his career as a stage actor, thus giving him an insight into how actors tick.

Awards and Nominations:

Dog Day Afternoon won an Academy Award for Writing-Original Screenplay.  It was also nominated for five other Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role/Pacino, Best Actor in a Supporting Role/Sarandon, and Best Film Editing) and seven Golden Globes (Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Actor/Pacino, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor/Cazale and Sarandon, and Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture/Sarandon).

The film is #70 on AFI’s list of 100 Years… 100 Thrills.

Al Pacino’s quote of “Attica! Attica!” is #86 on AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes.

In 2009, Dog Day Afternoon was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically” significant.

Trivial bits ‘n pieces:

John Wojtowicz, the real bank robber that the film was based on, watched The Godfather (Al Pacino and John Cazale were both in The Godfather) to get ideas on robbing the bank.

The phone call between Sonny and Leon was improvised.  Other noted improvised lines in the film were Sonny’s cry of “Attica! Attica!” and Sal’s response to what country he wanted to fly when they made their escape (Wyoming).

15 year-old Harvey Fierstein makes an uncredited appearance as one of the gay demonstrators.

The real life robbery and aftermath because a part of police training on how to deal with hostage and out of control crowd situations.

Your Producers for this episode were:

  • Tony
  • Darrell
  • Jill

This episode was recorded: 6/27/2012



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