Recently I encountered a TV review with Al Pacino (at 2004 Golden Globe ceremony perhaps), where he was asked to tell the names of three greatest films in his career. The answer: "Serpico", "Scarecrow", and "Dog Day Afternoon"
Directed by veteran director Sidney Lumet, "Dog Day Afternoon" captures masterfully the social and political zeitgeist of the early 1970s, where optimism and morale was shaking due to post-Vietnam trauma, cynicism, new wave of Communist threat, distrust of any authority, oil crisis and imminent stagnation in economy. In this background, humane but equally awkward Sonny Wortzik (played by Al Pacino) come on the scene as an ANTI-HERO with a Brooklyn bank robbery, which would end up with a real tragedy.
The movie have them all: robbery, hostages, negotiations, ineptness, cunningness, frustration, deception and death. The direction and characterizations are sharp and brilliant. Lumet makes perfect use out of limited locations. Although 80 percent of the movie takes place inside the bank, there's never a dull or wasted moment. It is beautifully scripted and shot all along. Pacino gives a stellar performance as Sonny, one of the most interesting movie characters in motion picture history. Performances of John Cazale as Sonny's sociopathic accomplice, Sal and Charles Durning as Detective Moretti were wondrous too.
I must admit that this is a kind of movie that really does deserve special edition treatment. Eventually, this new 30th-Anniversary 2-disc edition has a great collection of extras. Most notably, it contains a commentary by Sidney Lumet which is amazing to hear from that great director. Second disc has an extensive documentary "The Making of Dog Day Afternoon" that consists of 4 featurettes (including interviews with Lumet, Pacino, Durning and Sarandon) that can be viewed separately or altogether. Not just Lumet or Pacino fans, this is a must have for any movie collector.