Dog Day

By -

My supposition is that some people deal with solitude better than others. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most capable, I’m guessing I’m about an 8. Maybe even a 9. Just like Tom Hanks in “Castaway”, I could probably survive on an island by myself, although I’d probably wind up talking to a soccer ball, too, at some point.

This past week, I’ve been similarly situated, although unlike Tom Hanks’ character, I have at least had plenty of computers and plenty of work to keep my mind occupied. But there comes a point where I need to take a break from Slope improvements and tidying-up projects, so I ask myself: what’s a famous movie you’ve never gotten around to seeing?

My answer today was “Dog Day Afternoon“, which came out 44 years ago, yet I never saw. So I watched it for the first time, and I enjoyed it. This is, of course, a widely-acclaimed movie, and plenty of people watch it repeatedly. Pacino’s performance is considered to be one of his best, which is saying a lot. And, interestingly, the actual perpetrator of the crime portrayed in the film looks pretty close to Pacino (or at least the love-child of De Niro and Pacino):

For me, the most striking thing had nothing to do with the early 1970s New York grittiness, the performances, or the armed robbery itself. It had to do with the gay (or ‘homosexual“, as they repeatedly referred to it) subplot. It was truly a “how times have changed” impression for me.

Just a few thoughts on this, off the top of my head:

  • First of all, Pacino isn’t really believable as a gay character. I think he knew this, so when filming began he actually had grown a mustache in an attempt to look the part. The director hated it, though, so he was told after the first day to shave it off, and they’d just redo the day’s work.
  • In the movie, after the media reported that Sonny (Pacino’s character) was “part of the homosexual subculture”, the crowd that had gathered around the bank heckled him whenever he came outside. Several times, Sonny had to pat down someone who needed to come into the bank, and as he was patting them down, there would be catcalls and whistles from the crowd, making fun of him and insinuating that he was getting off on patting down other men.
  • When his same-sex spouse, “Leon”, shows up in the movie, the cops had brought him from a mental hospital, since he had just tried to kill. himself. I kept trying to figure out who Leon reminded me of, given the performance, it finally hit me – – Linda Richman from the SNL Coffee Talk sketch!
  • Also, as Leon is talking to the cops, he tells them he believes he is a woman trapped in a man’s body. You can just tell by the pacing and the reaction that the audience in 1975 was expected to be howling with laughter at this – – in their eyes – – complete freak.

The movie is based on a real-life event, and the real-life event really did have the robber trying to raise money, in part, for his male spouse’s sex reassignment surgery. I’ve got to say, if the screenwriter had just dreamed up the whole thing, it would probably have never been made, since all the circumstances seemed so implausible.

from their actual wedding album