Beyond Fright review: DOG DAY AFTERNOON (40th Anniversary Bluray)

134125_largeI’m a massive fan of heist films. There’s just something so entertaining and gripping as sitting down and watching films like HEAT, RESERVOIR DOGS, or in this case, DOG DAY AFTERNOON. Easily one of my favorite subgenres of film, films like the ones mentioned above were all able to not only tell a very tightly wound tale, but offered their viewers characters that leaped off of the screen EVERY SINGLE TIME you revisited them. Sidney Lumet’s 1975 classic DOG DAY AFTERNOON gave its viewers a wild ride of a film, and one that offered its audience something entirely different, from its ability to sympathize with its antagonists all the way to its true story of a man robbing a bank to pay for his lover’s sex change. It’s a completely unique and lasting film, and not only does Warner Bros.’ new 40th Anniversary Bluray give fans of the film a good transfer, but includes enough supplemental material to please the most die hard fan of the film.

Based on the real life robbery committed by John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Naturale, DOG DAY AFTERNOON took the larger than life, but very true story of Wojtowicz and Naturale (portrayed by Al Pacino and the late John Cazale) and their robbery/standoff and made it cinematic history. With Al Pacino commanding the screen as the leader of the crime and Cazale as the soft-spoken Sal, DOG DAY AFTERNOON does an excellent job of bringing its viewer in, and exploding right in their face. There isn’t a single moment that you can’t be impressed by, and the chemistry between Pacino and Cazale (which was also seen when the two played brothers Michael and Fredo in THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER: PART II) is easily one of the best partnerships in cinematic history, with Pacino playing the wild John and Cazale playing Sal very soft yet determined.

While most other robbery films revolving around just wanting to get rich, DOG DAY AFTERNOON presents the real life story of Wojtowicz wanting to score enough cash to pay for his lover, Leon Shermer (her name was changed for the film)’s sex change. It’s a very interesting premise, and there’s a scene in the film in which John is able to talk to Leon on the phone that is absolutely heartbreaking. FRIGHT NIGHT‘s Chris Sarandon almost steals the entire film just by that one scene as Leon. There’s an innocence and hurt to the character and that’s just one of the many ingredients that makes the film so wonderful. It’s a film that just fires on all cylinders, with great performances by Pacino, Cazale and Sarandon, as well as expert direction by Lumet. It’s incredibly difficult to be on the side of the robbers in these kinds of films, and DOG DAY AFTERNOON pulls you in, and actually makes you WANT Pacino and Cazale’s characters to make it to the end, and when tragedy strikes, because of that sympathy that you’ve felt for them, it hits twice as hard.


We’ve seen a couple of releases hit shelves throughout the years for this classic film, but WB’s new 40th Anniversary Bluray is hands down the one to own. Including the extensive making of that was previously available on the deluxe DVD, as well the true standout of this release: the heartbreaking yet endearing documentary, I KNEW IT WAS YOU: REDISCOVERING JOHN CAZALE. A feature length doc regarding the life and career of Cazale’s is at times comical and tear-jerking at the same time. Featuring interviews with Al Pacino (who not only co-starred in three films with Cazale, but was a friend since their teenage years), Gene Hackman, Robert Deniro and Meryl Streep, who was in a relationship with Cazale and stayed by his side during his fight with cancer, which cut his life short at the age of 42. It’s such a good tribute to an actor who was not only able to star in five films before his passing, but five of the greatest films of all time (THE GODFATHER, THE GODFATHER: PART II, THE CONVERSATION, DOG DAY AFTERNOON and THE DEER HUNTER).  Filled with such entertaining stories of Cazale’s life and the way he presented himself as a person, I KNEW IT WAS YOU is easily the reason to pick this one up.

As an added bonus, the 2nd disc also features two of Cazale’s short films, as well as extended interviews from the doc, all of which are a pleasure to watch.

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