We review two films by director Sidney Lumet

”Dog Day Afternoon” and ”Network”

The kind of acting Al Pacino does in Dog Day Afternoon (R, 124 mins., 1975, Warner) and Peter Finch does in Network (R, 121 mins., 1976, Warner) has all but vanished from American film: emotionally extravagant but not over-the-top. As a bank robber intent on getting dough for a sex change operation for his lover (Chris Sarandon, wonderful with a bouffant ‘do), Pacino is tightly coiled, all whispers and hoarse declamations. Finch, as the TV anchorman who’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, is a blustery, despairing wreck. Each defies a hierarchy — the law and the media, respectively — and goes down in glory. These characters explode, but director Sidney Lumet makes sure they transcend the dialogue’s broad-stroke messages (Can’t we all just get along? and The media makes us soulless boobs). Dog Day‘s standoff becomes tragic; Network‘s satire grows crude. Lumet’s commentaries on both are craftsman-specific. He describes the ability of Network‘s Faye Dunaway — portraying a cynical TV programmer — to ”play the purity of a hellion,” which could also describe Pacino’s nuanced, ultimately romantic troublemaker. And Network has a dandy featurette solely about how the famous ”mad as hell” scene — involving scads of extras screaming the phrase from Manhattan apartment windows — was filmed. Dog Day: A Network: B+

Dog Day Afternoon
  • Movie