Still the standard by which many New York movies are compared, this chronicles a bank robbery gone awry. As motivations are revealed, the robbery turns into a hostage situation and a media circus ensues. Based on a true story.
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My favorite Al Pacino film! One of only 5 films featuring the absolutely brilliant, incredibly sensitive actor's actor, John Cazale, and it may be his best performance. This one and Fredo in The Godfather. With Charles Durning and Chris Sarandon. My favorite line is when Pacino tells cop Durning, who is trying to persuade him to surrender: "Kiss Me. I like to be kissed when I'm getting fucked!"
Sonny's reference to the Attica Prison Riot of 1971 is a critical turning point where the catalyst of media can create a political melting pot to a hostage scene. Lumet's art of characterisation was to add contextual variables to coax the spectator to root for the unsympathetic protagonist; Sonny and Sal's plight is humanised to such a compelling degree, that it is hard not to perceive the criminals as victims...
"Attica! Attica!" ................. shouted Pacino when he got surrounded by the police while his was taking hostages. That was a great inspiration because at that moment he turned his failed bank robbery into a political protest with reference to the Attica events. All in a sudden he got the TV and the press on his side.
A long time ago I used to have debates with people about who was better, Pacino or De Niro. As time went on, and Pacino decided to chew scenery, while De Niro stayed somewhat respectable. It was embarrassing for me having to defend things like 'Scent of a Woman'. Of course De Niro has lately been floundering along, but it's too late. Now I just say "John Cazale was an amazing actor." He's the one to watch here.
Lumet's directorial take on the Frank Pierson script resulted in one of the seminal films of the seventies. Based on the true story of John Wojtowicz the film touched on several button issues including gay rights, police brutality and handling hostage situations. Pacino gave an iconic turn here with great support all around especially Durning, Cazale, Sarandon and Allen. One of Lumet's best.
This is not JUST a heist film that just so happens to have two phenomenal performances. If anything, it is also one of the best portrayals about the police and how they deal with such fragile situations. Plus, can you believe that only 2 bullets are fired in this whole film. The first alone causes one the most beautiful Eisenstein-ian montage that I have seen. All in all, a Masterpiece of the New Hollywood era.
Pacino and Cazale made some great films together, obviously, but their on-screen interaction might have never been better than here. (and that includes The Godfather). My favorite film from Sidney Lumet.