Dog Day Anniversary
Update 9/23/09: Google just made a large collection of old LIFE Magazine issues available for viewing on-line. You can now read the original article that inspired Dog Day Afternoon in its entirety on-line.
35 years ago today, a couple guys named John Wojtowicz and Sal Naturile held up a Chase Manhattan bank in Brooklyn at the corner of Avenue P and East 3rd Street. At the time, New York City was experiencing one or two bank robberies per day. But before it was over, this one became the hottest thing on TV. The police were alerted, hostages were taken, and 12 hours later the ordeal finally came to an end after several strange turns.
I don’t want to go too much further into what happened, because the story was turned into the excellent 1975 movie Dog Day Afternoon, starring Al Pacino and directed by Sidney Lumet, and some of you may not have seen it before. I don’t want to spoil it. I highly recommend it as a great movie to watch during these dog days of summer.
The movie was based on a Life Magazine article about the holdup called “The Boys in the Bank.” I dug up the original article, by PF Kluge and Thomas Moore, and was amazed to discover that the photos of the event looked surprisingly similar to stills from the movie. I knew that Lumet had strived to achieve a realistic look to his film, but there were many details that were nearly identical to the real events.
Here are some side-by-side comparisons. On the left, we have photos from the actual crime scene. On the right, we have images from the movie.
John (called “Sonny” in the movie, played by Al Pacino) talks to cops outside the bank:
Ernest (called “Leon” in the movie, played by Chris Sarandan) arrives at the scene:
Sal (called “Sal” in the movie, played by John Cazale) was actually 18 when the events took place. I think Cazale looks quite a bit older. But I can forgive them. Because it’s John Cazale.
Cops (called “cops” in the movie, played in part by James Broderick) huddle behind a car across the street with reporters, watching events unfold:
I should have an original copy of the magazine coming my way soon, and when it does I’ll try to add a couple more side-by-side comparisons using more photos from the story. In the meantime, as further encouragement for you to watch this movie, here’s a famous scene (that’s relatively spoiler free) to tease you. Enjoy.