If Sidney Lumet at first looked like he was going to specialize in bringing work from other dramatic media--the stage, TV--to the screen, he turned to adapting high-quality novels and stories with The Pawnbroker (1964) and thereafter drew about equally from stage and prose fiction. Dog Day Afternoon is the second adaptation of nonfictional works he made and one of his best movies that I've seen. Just about every element of it would be hard to improve, but for all its excellences, it's characters aren't interesting enough to support its two-hours-plus length. The first hour is the better one, with lots of boffo black-comedy laughs, but after those, as things get seriouser and seriouser, having to admit that the antihero played so commandingly by Al Pacino (perhaps my favorite American actor of his generation) is really just a sadsack--grandiose and appealing, but still--makes one long for the end title. I'll be damned, however, if I could see any obviously cuttable scenes in the movie. --Ray Olson

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