Dog Day Afternoon
Two-Disc Special Edition
Studio: Warner Brothers
Film Length: 124 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
Attica! Attica! Attica!
It was important that I had something to
say about Dog Day Afternoon. From the first
time I watched it some 26 years ago, it has remained
within my top 3 all-time favorite films.
In fact, I'll go on record and say that Dog Day
Afternoon is one of the greatest films ever made!
It's a brilliantly executed film for the fact that
it contains an amazing ensemble of cast and crew.
It started with an oscar-winning screenplay by Frank
Pierson, based on a magazine article about a bank
robbery that actually took place in August 1972.
You then have the talents of director Sidney Lumet,
a director renowned for his his skill of pushing
hard to get top-notch performances from the actors
he works with. In the forefront, there was an amazing
line-up of actors such as Al Pacino, John Cazale
and Charles Durning, all giving what may be
considered the finest performances of their careers.
Take all of this and put it in the very capable hands
of film editor Dede Allen, and you come out with a
tragically funny, highly energetic, and brilliantly
As I mentioned above, the film is based on a true
story. On a hot Brooklyn afternoon in August 1972,
two amateurs, Sonny (Al Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale),
set out to rob a bank. They both expected that the
robbery would be over in a few minutes. What ensued
was a totally botched attempt that brought hundreds
of police offers and the creation of a media circus
to a small NY street. It was unlike anything anyone
had seen before.
The situation goes from bad to worse as the robbery
turns into a hostage situation. Inside the bank, there's
the bank manager, security guard and an assortment of
female tellers. Outside the bank is Detective Sergeant
Moretti (Charles Durning), trying to negotiate the
terms of release amongst the hundreds of Brooklyn
natives cheering Sonny on behind the barricades.
How does it look and sound?
I have to be honest -- I have watched Dog Day
Afternoon so many times during my life that I
had no intention of watching it nor even posting a
review. Blame it all on curiosity. I was curious
to see how well Warner Brothers restored this copy,
wondering if they did any extensive restoration at all.
Well, I popped the movie in rather late last evening
and ended up watching it all the way through.
I was captured by the brilliance of the transfer.
I have seen this film countless times on VHS, laserdisc
and even the initial non-anamorphic DVD release. I
know this transfer inside and out. I can tell you
where all the print scratches are supposed to be, and
I can tell you exactly how the film is supposed to sound.
What I watched last evening was a totally different
film, highly evident from the opening shot of the
camera pulling away from the Manhattan Circle Liner.
What should have been there were an assortment of
scratches and other abrasions. Instead, for the first
time in my life, I was seeing a sequence almost totally
free of debris. Take a look at the first photo I posted
of Pacino inside the bank waving the gun. Though the
image is compressed, it does faithfully represent how
clean and accurate the transfer is.
Something else occurred to me, too. Though the mono
audio soundtrack didn't exhibit a noticeable amount
of overall fidelity, I was actually hearing sounds I
never noticed before. During the film's opening
montage, I heard clanging garbage cans and other
punctuated background noises. This tells me that
great care was given to cleaning up the film's
soundtrack to bring out these effects. Even Elton
John's wonderful "Amoreena" sounds slightly more
vibrant than it previously had.
The video presentation brings Dog Day Afternoon
to a brand-new level. This is the first time since
owning a widescreen display I have seen the film in
its enhanced for anamorphic presentation. It is
being presented in a "matted" widescreen format that
preserves the original theatrical ratio. I am not sure
we are actually seeing any more picture information than
we have before, but I have to say, seeing this on a 57"
widescreen television with a highly improved transfer,
really drew me into the action, making me feel as if
I was experiencing the film for the very first time.
The transfer is beautiful. It doesn't match the look
of what we would expect from modern film -- and that's
a good thing. The film still looks like something
out of the '70s era which is important to preserving
the gritty look of New York City during that period.
The extremely accurate earthy colors give the film a
very warm feel. I was amazed by how good the colors
and flesh tones are represented here. This was
obviously a transfer that was given a lot of time to
be done RIGHT. This is the best the film has ever
If you want to give me something to actually
complain about, I can do it. There's something
very cruel that Warner Brothers did here that is
something outside of the transfer itself. It is
replacing the original opening Warner Brothers logo
(which I believe was their special 70s "W" logo)
with their brand new studio logo. While I know
how proud Warner is of their new logo, I feel the
studio is destroying the historical value of this
film by replacing the original. The studio needs
to understand that purists want to see the film
exactly as it was seen in 1975.
The Making of Dog Day Afternoon is a very
enjoyable, highly informable one-hour documentary
that features (amongst others) new interviews with
director Sidney Lumet, producer Martin Bregman and
editor Dede Allen. Additionally, you will be thrilled
to know about new interviews with (amongst others) Al
Pacino, Chris Sarandon and Charles Durning. There
is much that is covered here ranging from the magazine
article that started it all, to the casting, filming
and popularity that followed after the film's release.
Some of the most revealing stories is that the film
was actually filmed in the Fall, and ice had to be
placed in the actors mouths in order to hide their
breathe in the cold air. It's also amazing to learn
that John Casale was the most unlikely choice for the
film, that is, until his audition.
What I am very disappointed isn't included anywhere
here is footage of the actual events this film is
based on. Maybe I am expecting too much, but with
all the media surrounding this event, I am surprised
that there is no news footage of the real Sonny
parading in front of the crowd. It would have been
very interesting to see how close this film came to
portraying the actual events.
What I also enjoyed was a brief vintage featurette
on director Sidney Lumet that was fascinating to
watch for the fact that it was the only footage
included anywhere on this entire DVD that actually
took you out on the set and behind-the-scenes of
what was being filmed. Frankly, I wish there was
more of this included in the documentary, but I am
guessing that perhaps such footage no longer exists.
It occurs to me that there are possibly many readers
of this forum much younger than myself who probably
never watched Dog Day Afternoon. To those
readers I suggest going out and purchasing this DVD
blindly. For most everyone else, there is no need
for persuasion. Warner Brothers has done a sensational
job restoring this film and giving it a much needed
anamorphic presentation. Watching it now is like
viewing the film for the very first time.
All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality
In case anyone asks based on comments made in the review....
My Top 4 Favorite Films of All Time (In no particular order)
Dog Day Afternoon (Warner)