Al Pacino plays a ferocious and fed-up bank robber in Lumet's classic film DOG DAY AFTERNOON. Balancing suspense, violence, and humor, the film's depiction of a grand-scale media event craftily dives from the political to the personal, evoking a piercing portrait of a man and his devastating downward tumble as seen through the media circus that Lumet made a career of chronicling. Pacino is heartbreakingly real as Sonny, a smart yet self-destructive Brooklyn tough whose plan to rob the local bank to fund his male lover's (Chris Sarandon) sex change goes absurdly wrong. Accompanied only by his doltish accomplice, Sal (John Cazale), Sonny realizes that all the money had been removed before his arrival, and decides to kidnap a handful of bank employees instead. As the lengthy August day drags on, Sonny and hordes of local police, led by Sergeant Moretti (Charles Durning), make little progress, and eventually Sonny's wife and lover are brought to the scene. The crowd's sympathy is immediately captured by the charismatic Sonny, whose antagonism with the police is played out before an audience of millions, leading to an inevitably tragic finish.
Academy Awards Best Original Screenplay 1975 Frank Pierson Screenwriter, Director, mid '60s-early '90s, COOL HAND LUKE