Dog Day Afternoon DVD Review
PictureDog Day Afternoon is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced widescreen format, with a polished-up transfer. Few movies this age and in this style of production can be cleaned up to look this good and this presentation is therefore pretty exceptional. The detail is generally excellent, with negligible softness, no signs of edge enhancement and only a light smattering of grain in some of the poorer-lit sequences. The colour scheme does, admittedly, look a little dilapidated, with reds suffering the worst, but since the movie was designed to look so 'real', that effect is generally acceptable and expected.
SoundAs for soundtracks, all we get here is the original Dolby Digital 1.0 mono recording for the movie, severely limiting the dynamism of the track. The dialogue still comes across as perfectly clear and coherent, but even Pacino's shouting matches seem a little restricted by the format of the mix. The effects also suffer, but with no significant score (the soundtrack is reduced to just a couple of selected songs) the whole movie is basically comprised of various vocal offerings - whether shouting, whispering, crowds chanting or screaming. I know that a remixed six-speaker surround track might have seemed like overkill for this material, but it is the kind of movie that would have been worth the effort.
ExtrasFirst up we get a full-length Audio Commentary from Director Sidney Lumet, who reminisces about the production, going over everything from the lack of score (they used just song tracks because they wanted to maintain realism) to the casting (like how John Cazale worked so well with Pacino in Godfather that they wanted him here), the use of numerous actors as extras - but also civilians who were in the area - and the improvisational work they did (mostly by Pacino). Most of the informational titbits are interesting (some are not and some are quite dry and technical) and this is definitely worth listening to if you want to learn more about this classic production.
The only other extra on the first disc is the original Theatrical Trailer.
The second disc is devoted to two documentaries. The Making of Dog Day Afternoon is an hour-long (recently made) comprehensive documentary that is basically split into four main parts: The Story, Casting the Controversy, Recreating the Facts and After the Filming. Much of the same information from the commentary is covered here, but alongside it we get plenty of full-length interviews with many of the main contributors, from the producer Martin Bregman (who also worked with Pacino on Scarface) and Director Sidney Lumet, to the main man himself - Pacino. There are a few still from the original real-life robbery and several clips from the final film, but the narration keeps even this footage interesting. We get to hear about everything - how they came across the story to how they put together the cast, changed the script (but tried to keep it real) and then edited it down in size, but finally decided the longer version was more appropriate in tempo. Overall it is a valuable documentary that should interest anybody who likes this particular movie.
Lumet: filmmaker is a ten-minute documentary created around the time of the production of the main movie. Shot very poorly (plenty of grain, scratches and faded colours) and featuring the most oppressive, intrusive voice-over you can imagine, it is still quite nice because you get to see quite a lot of behind the scenes footage, shots being set up and filmed, instructions from the director and interviews with key cast and crew members (both on and off-screen).
VerdictDog Day Afternoon is a Pacino classic, another great film from Sidney Lumet, with strong political overtones and a tense undercurrent running throughout. Based on a true story, there is an immense amount of realism in the production and it shines throughout. The video is quite polished considering the age but the audio (which is admittedly the original mono format) is a little disappointing. The new documentary and commentary go some way to make up for this and you do get the impression that this movie has (to a certain extent) finally been given the treatment that it deserves.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £16.73
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