‘The Dog’ Inspires Some Bank Payback

Posted by Alexander Hunter on 8.10.2014

Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren's The Dog, which opened on Friday, is a wild portrait of a man named John Wojtowicz. While Wojtowicz's name is not likely to be familiar, you may recognize him as portrayed by Al Pacino in his Oscar-nominated leading role in Dog Day Afternoon. Wojtowicz's goal: rob a bank, pay for his lover's sex change, live happily ever after... but of course things didn't go as planned.

The Dog tells the story of what really happened on that Brooklyn afternoon as Wojtowicz attempted to gain the funds for his partner's sex-change operation by robbing a Chase Manhattan bank. What started as a planned robbery turned into a 14-hour standoff and media sensation, leading to Wojtowicz's sixyear imprisonment. The documentary takes a look at his life through conversations with Wojtowicz himself and those who knew him, and examines the events that led him to the attempted robbery.

In honor of the film's opening, Chase Bank employees just need to show proof of Chase employment at the box office to get into any weekday showtime during the first week of the film's theatrical opening.

[Related: 'The Dog’ Filmmakers Find a ‘70s Bank Robber Bon Vivant with No Apologies]

The Dog begins its exclusive one-week engagement at the Film Society after having screened in numerous film festivals, including the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and 2013 New York Film Festival. Following Toronto, John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter described the film as an "engaging expansion on the true-crime tale."

The film is a profile of Wojtowicz's entire life: before, during, and after the events of Dog Day Afternoon, rather than simply the robbery itself, and as Eric Kohn at Indiewire puts it, The Dog "capably fills in the gaps in his bizarre life." Wojtowicz's story, even past the attempted robbery, also works as a "tour guide through the early gay-rights movement," says Peter Debuge in Variety.

As stated by Daniel Pratt in Exclaim, The Dog is "one of the most remarkable retellings of someone's life caught on camera in recent years."

The Dog is a New York Times Critics' Pick, and Manohla Dargis praised the film's ability to "explore the tension between movie-made truth and real-life fiction."

Check out the trailer below:

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