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Dog Day Afternoon(1975)
The robbery should have taken 10 minutes. 4 hours later, the bank was like a circus sideshow. 8 hours later, it was the hottest thing on live T.V. 12 hours later, it was all history. And it's all true.
For more about Dog Day Afternoon and the Dog Day Afternoon Blu-ray release, see Dog Day Afternoon Blu-ray Review published by Greg Maltz on August 15, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Sidney Lumet
Writer: Frank Pierson
Starring: Al Pacino, John Cazale, Charles Durning, Sully Boyar, Chris Sarandon (I), Lance Henriksen
» See full cast & crew
Dog Day Afternoon Blu-ray Review
After failed marriages to VHS and DVD, the classic Pacino film is finally wed to 1080p
Reviewed by Greg Maltz, August 15, 2007
A low-budget film from 1975 that features a monaural soundtrack may seem like an odd candidate for release on Blu-ray. But Dog Day Afternoon will forever be a classic due to one of the greatest performances in Al Pacino's career. A lesser actor would have played up the insanity of the lead role of Sonny Wortzik, but Pacino accentuated the misguided character's human side, allowing audiences better accessibility to the bizarre story.
An important film in its time, with a counterculture theme, Dog Day Afternoon is based on the true story of a bank heist gone awry. It deserves a place on the shelf of every film collector, and the BD-25 version deserves a screening on every HDTV. Most of us grew familiar with Dog Day Afternoon from TV broadcasts, the VHS and the much improved DVD version, reissue and two- DVD set from Warner. Forget about all those. The definitive version is here.
Watching the film on Blu-ray is like seeing it for the first time because of its lifelike resolution and presence. The audio, too, cleans up nicely on this much improved classic. As Elton John's Amoreena blares from the center speaker, the credits show on top of high resolution, 1.85:1 scenes of Brooklyn, New York. The last strains of Amoreena play and the music ends. The remainder of the film has no score. And as the music ends, the views of Brooklyn's people and places settle on a car parked outside a bank.
We are introduced to Sonny and Sal Naturile (John Cazale). Moments later, they are inside the bank with guns drawn and Sonny is issuing orders to the bank manager and cashiers. From the earliest moments of the robbery, Sonny's plan starts to unravel. Police surround the bank. Detective Sgt. Eugene Moretti (Charles Durning) demands that Sonny and Sal put down their weapons and surrender. Dog Day Afternoon seems to be over, but it is just getting started.
Each successive moment seems to reveal new insight into Sonny and his motivation for the robbery. Fascinating interactions develop as Sonny tries to manage Sal, the hostages and Moretti. Pacino turns it into a brilliant character study. His delivery of lines, facial expressions and body language transform Sonny into one of the most unique characters in the history of film. Pacino's performance is by turns subtle and forceful, meek and explosive, depressing and inspirational, repulsive and charismatic. That Pacino could instantaneously switch on and off these elements of Sonny's personality and convey a full range of emotions while staying comfortably in character is a testament to his skill as an actor.
Dog Day Afternoon Blu-ray, Video Quality
Until the advent of DVD, Pacino's facial expressions, body language cues and method acting were conveyed to viewers in NTSC broadcasts and video tape showing a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The resolution was terrible, the picture blurry, the sound muddy and distorted, the videostage severely cropped. Then came the digital. Watching the second-generation DVD and two-disc extended version was like lifting a veil. The DVD greatly improved the imagery and audio, restoring the picture to its original ratio. But we were still left with NTSC. The resolution was nowhere near film quality.
All that changed as of April 10, 2007 when Warner Home Video released Dog Day Afternoon on Blu-ray. For the first time, the movie sets and characters have life-like definition and detail. Warner's use of the VC-1 codec may not stack up to Sony's use of MPEG-4 (not a fair comparison giving the new movies Sony releases on BD), but one thing is for sure: the 1080p resolution of Dog Day Afternoon absolutely trounces what was available before.
Watch the way Sonny's face drops when he learns the police have the bank surrounded. His expression is imbued with details that were simply missing in NTSC versions of Dog Day Afternoon. Even the actors' clothes, marking this film firmly in the 1970s, show incredible clarity and definition. Grain noise is prevalent, but it provides an analog warmth to the picture, as though we are seeing real film. The details shine through in stunning manner compared to the DVD. It won't win awards for picture quality, but Dog Day Afternoon is impressively detailed with gorgeous contrast. I witnessed a few digital artefacts during the final scenes. But even that content maintained good black level.
Dog Day Afternoon Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The film will not win any audio awards, either. After treating my ears to the SACD version of Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection album, Amoreena sounded comparably two-dimensional and harsh on Warner's mono Dolby Digital soundtrack. Not surprisingly, it lacked any depth or soundstage. But when the music ended, the audio was passable, and even a significant improvement compared to the sound of previous versions of the film. Voices and gunshots, footsteps and chanting bystanders all sound remarkably clear and convincing. In a nutshell, the audio doesn't hold back Dog Day Afternoon, but you won't want to use it to demo your system.
Dog Day Afternoon Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Aside from Pacino, a key factor in the success of the film is the behind-the-camera work of legendary director Sidney Lumet. Of great interest to his fans, and indeed fans of movies in general, is Lumet's commentary describing the casting, filming and aftermath of Dog Day Afternoon. A featurette entitled "Lumet: Film Maker" is also included. Rounding out the special features are the theatrical trailer and a worthwhile, four part documentary on the making of Dog Day Afternoon, which includes an exploration of the actual events that inspired the movie.
Dog Day Afternoon Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Within the span of three short years, Pacino mastered three characters that would become legends of film: Michael Corleone, Frank Serpico and Sonny Wortzik. Each has a distinct personality, manner of speaking, facial expressions and body language. Perfectly portraying the traits of any one of these characters would have been a major achievement for any actor, but to go from one to the other in succession and convincingly transform himself was a triumph for Al Pacino. His 1992 Oscar Award for Best Actor in Scent of a Woman, and his powerhouse roles of that time--Ricky Roma in Glengarry Glenn Ross and Vincent Hanna in Heat--were another highlight of his career, but the early-to-mid 1970s proved his meddle.
Dog Day Afternoon never achieved the popularity of many Pacino films, but remains something of a cult classic--a counterculture portrait of criminal narcissism. Sonny is too unlikely a hero for Hollywood to handle, but thanks to Lumet, the storytelling is wonderful. Pacino had a strong supporting cast, but he stole the show. To see him perform in this role in 1080p is a treat, and I feel indebted to Warner for releasing the Blu-ray.
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Dog Day Afternoon Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Warner Announces A Scanner Darkly and Dog Day Afternoon - February 21, 2007
Warner Home Video today announced that they will debut A Scanner Darkly and Dog Day Afternoon on Blu-ray Disc on April 10. The films feature all-star casts including Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson and Academy Award winner Al Pacino. A ...
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