Sunday, May 30, 2010

Movies: Dog Day Afternoon

Wait. What is going on in this movie?! At first start, this appears to be a classic much entrenched in a traditional genre: the bank robbery gone wrong. Big-eyed, baby Pacino, smooth of face and trembling of hand, is Sonny, the classic no-good greaser set to rob a bank with a pair of skittish and incompetent companions; the sweaty bank manager and the tellers are taken hostage, and like all good 1970s hostages (see the original Taking of Pelham 1,2,3) well represent their types: the mouthy one who takes control, the quiet one who calls her husband, the vivacious one who is found in the bathroom putting on her make-up. The semi-competent cop comes to talk Sonny down, and Sonny demands that they bring him his wife. And who shows up? Not the fat mother of Sonny's two kids, but a frail, trembling homosexual in a bathrobe with painted nails and a Jewfro, whose most recent residence is Bellevue.

The fact that Sonny is a homosexual who married Leon in a traditional ceremony (in which Leon wore a floor-length white gown—we are shown a picture), in spite of already being married with children (i.e. not divorced, but still married), and that Leon's desire for a $2,000 sex change is one of Sonny's incentives for robbing the bank (which, by the way, has no money, since the truck has already come and picked up all but the petty cash) is treated surprisingly casually, considering that this film was made in 1975. Perhaps we are expected, since it's based on a true story, to just accept facts as facts, but it's hard for me to imagine audiences 35 years ago, going to see a bank robbery movie starring Al Pacino—the Al Pacino they already know from The Godfather—and not balking at his playing a homosexual. . . aside from the fact that he's not a very convincing homosexual, and relates to Leon more like an indulgent older brother.

No comments: