Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list
Dog Day Afternoon
dir. Sidney Lumet scr. Frank Pierson cin. Victor J. Kemper with Al Pacino, John Cazale, James Broderick, Charles Durning, Lance Henriksen, Chris Sarandon, Penelope Allen, Susan Peretz, Carol Kane
In 100 words: On a hot summer day in New York, Sonny Wortzik walks in to rob a bank. What seems like a dubious plan turns into a nightmare scenario with the whole world watching. Dog Day is an unconventional story that weaves so many details that broaden its thematic scope and constantly shapeshifts its tone to maximize surprises and impact. The script and the direction richly plumbs the depth of all these characters—and what characters! They are all so well-drawn and vigorously performed. Lumet created a movie that manages to speak to many things at once, without feeling overstuffed. That’s brilliance.
Other Movies for Context: Sidney Lumet is such a great director, and he’s made some of the most amazing American films ever. On top of that fine list, apart from this, is his adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962), a film that I would have loved to have on this Top 100 list. Also impressive are Network (1977), one of my favorite movies ever, which has influenced my life in many ways, and 12 Angry Men (1957), an important American film that everyone needs to watch.