Monday, August 6, 2012

Cool Trivia About 'Dog Day Afternoon' or Why Al Pacino is So Awesome!

Last weekend was the first time I'd ever seen Dog Day Afternoon (Don't judge me!) and this is what I said after viewing it.

#nfotd #DogDayAfternoon was excellent! The classic everyone says it is! Great
direction by SIDNEY LUMET & excellent performances by the WHOLE cast with
another especially outstanding performance by the one and only AL PACINO

Also my usual modus operandi after I see a movie I like is to read more about it on Wikipedia and IMDb (the Internet Movie Database) Below is some of the trivia I found about Dog Day Afternoon and on some my comments in red.
The original working title was "Boys in the Bank." Director Sidney Lumet hated it because he thought it made the film appear to be a "light, fluffy comedy," and he had it changed to "Dog Day Afternoon." I think that was the right move! That original title did make it seem like a "light, fluffy comedy"
The entire film is mostly improvised, though around the script. After rehearsing the script for weeks with his cast, Sidney Lumet took the improvisations that were made while rehearsing and made that the official screenplay. Excellent choice by Lumet. Really lent itself to the spirit of the picture.
Director of photography Victor J. Kemper stuck with practical lighting for most of the film, relying on the fluorescents inside the bank. Too cool! Great choice and it lent the proper aesthetic to those scenes.
Although he had initially agreed to play the part of Sonny, Al Pacino told Sidney Lumet near the start of production that he couldn't play it. Pacino had just completed production on "The Godfather: Part II" and was physically exhausted and depressed after the shoot. With his reliance on the Method, Pacino didn't relish the thought of working himself up to a state of near hysteria every day. Lumet unhappily accepted the actor's decision and dispatched the script to Dustin Hoffman. Pacino changed his mind when he heard that his rival was in the fray. An example of true artistic dedication. In hip-hop lingo he goes H*A*M.
Halfway through the production, Al Pacino collapsed from exhaustion and had to be hospitalized for a short time. After production was completed, he decided to stop doing films for a while and return to stage work. Again, dedication!
John Cazale was cast at Al Pacino's insistence, despite being nowhere the age of the real Sal, who was 18 at the time. Sidney Lumet was opposed to the idea because the actor was clearly inappropriate for the part. However, when Cazale came in to read for the part, Lumet was sold on him within 5 minutes. Another reason why Al Pacino is so awesome!
John Cazale in Dog Day Afternoon

Again I thought this was an excellent choice. I had only seen Cazale as “Fredo” in the Godfather pictures and while clearly an actor it was good to see this other side of his acting talent. Cazale’s “Sal” was brooding and menacing a 180 degree turn and clear departure from the inept Fredo.
John Cazale in The Godfather Part II
 “During his six-year film career, he appeared in five films, each of which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture: The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon and The Deer Hunter. He is the only actor to have this multi-film distinction.”-Wikipedia
 Dying of Cancer just three short years after 'Dog Day', it was good to see another aspect of a fantastic actor.

For the lengthy phone conversation between Sonny and Leon - largely improvised by Al Pacino and Chris Sarandon - director Sidney Lumet was faced with the problem of what to do when the film in the camera ran out as it was only good for 10 minutes worth of film. He solved that problem by starting a second camera up just as the first was due to finish.
Chris Sarandon in Dog Day Afternoon
Sidney Lumet made Al Pacino do the phone conversation with Leon a second time even though his first take was perfect. Lumet's reasoning was because he saw how much the scene took out of his actor and he wanted Pacino to look exhausted, as the character had been holed up in a bank, and a highly stressful situation, all day. I didn't even recognize Chris Sarandon in this. Excellent performance! He was a damn mess! That phone conversation was one of the great scenes in the picture. So beautifully acted.
Frank Pierson wrote the screenplay. At one point Al Pacino's character says to one of the bank tellers, "Get your mind right." The same line was constantly used throughout "Cool Hand Luke", a movie also written by Pierson. I always thought "get your mind right" had its etymology in the black community. LOL
The production shoot lasted 7 weeks with crews and cast working day and night. Due to director Sidney Lumet's speedy style of working, the film was completed 3 weeks ahead of schedule. An attribute to a great director!

In the end one of the great things I liked about this picture’s great direction was that it was just that—great direction. No fancy fast cuts or wildly revolving camera angles. I don’t even think it had dolly shots and such that I can think of and if it did it was kept to a minimum. Again bang-up directing job by Sidney Lumet, but ultimately the success of this picture was…

External Link
You can read more IMDb Trivia: Dog Day Afternoon @

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