Dog Day Afternoon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image looked like part of its era but came across with a surprisingly attractive presentation.
Sharpness appeared strong. Occasional shots demonstrated minor softness, but those never caused significant distractions. The majority of the movie showed good clarity and delineation. Jagged edges and shimmering seemed non-existent, and edge haloes failed to mar the presentation. Grain remained appropriate, and I noticed no signs of specks, marks or source flaws.
Colors went with a natural palette that came across well. The interior shots were appropriately subdued, but exteriors showed surprisingly vivid tones. Across the board, colors looked clean and concise. Blacks were appropriately dark and dense, while shadows seemed adequate to good. Some of the bank shots could be a little dim, but they usually were smooth. Overall, this was a more than satisfying transfer.
In a similar vein, the Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack of Dog Day Afternoon was perfectly fine. Speech played the most important role. A smidgen of edginess occurred, but not as much as I expected, and the lines were mostly positive. They could be somewhat dull, but intelligibility was very good.
Effects came from environmental elements. Some louder bits occurred due to helicopters, planes and other vehicles, but since so much of the flick took place in the bank, we didn’t get much. They were clear and reasonably accurate. Music popped up only during the opening credits, at which time Elton John’s “Amoreena” played. The song displayed surprisingly good clarity and definition. Ultimately, the audio worked well for this movie.
One footnote about the audio: during his audio commentary, Sidney Lumet makes reference to stereo sound for the film. Maybe I misunderstood, but this gave me the impression the movie originally came with that audio. However, I can find no evidence it ever appeared in stereo, and it looks like all the home video versions have been mono.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the of the 2006 Special Edition DVD ? Audio remained comparable, as both offered identical monaural mixes. Since the Blu-ray failed to present a lossless track, no changes occurred in terms of sound.
Visuals demonstrated obvious improvements, however, as the Blu-ray came with stronger definition and vivacity; it also featured a cleaner presentation. This became a good step up in terms of picture quality.
The Blu-ray duplicates all of the 2006 DVD’s extras. We open with an audio commentary from director Sidney Lumet, who presents a running, screen-specific piece. Lumet discusses the movie’s lack of score and the inclusion of the Elton John song, cast, characters and improvisation, sets and locations, the movie’s naturalism and verisimilitude, and general thoughts about his work here and elsewhere.
In addition to the basic data, Lumet offers a number of nice insights such as a comparison of LA extras vs. NY extras. I especially like Lumet’s thoughts on working with Pacino and the actor’s tendencies. There’s also less dead air here than during other Lumet commentaries; he still drags at times, but usually he keeps things moving. This commentary provides a very solid look at the film and its connected issues.
Next comes from the four-part The Making of Dog Day Afternoon. Taken together, the four chapters fill 57 minutes and 50 seconds. These offer the usual mix of movie clips, archival materials, and interviews. We find notes from Lumet, producer Martin Bregman, screenwriter Frank Pierson, editor Dede Allen, director of photography Victor J. Kemper, assistant director Burtt Harris, and actors Al Pacino, Charles Durning, Lance Henriksen, and Chris Sarandon.
We start with notes on how the true story was adapted for the screen and related choices, rehearsals and their effect on the script, casting and performances. From there we move through logistics of the locations, realism and photography, specifics of some scenes and characters, editing and pacing, and reactions to the film.
Some documentaries do little more than echo audio commentaries, but happily, this one greatly expands on Lumet’s chat. Inevitably, some repetition occurs, but not enough to become tedious. It covers the facets of the production with candor, especially when we hear from Pierson. He offers terrific insights into his choices for the script, and Pacino also aptly conveys his original doubts and concerns about aspects of the film. The show gives us many fine details and fleshes out our understanding of the film well.
The set ends with the movie’s trailer and a vintage featurette called Lumet: Film Maker. This 10-minute and one-second piece shows shots from the set and interviews with Lumet, vehicle supplier George Santana, boom man Bob Rogow, actor Carmine Foresta, and still photographer Muky Muncasi. We get some quick notes about Lumet’s working style and hear from the director himself about various production details. We learn most of this elsewhere, so “Film Maker” is moderately interesting just for some of the archival footage.
Gritty and blunt, Dog Day Afternoon offers an unusual bank robbery flick. It goes down unexpected paths and benefits from a frank, restrained tone. The Blu-ray presents pretty good picture and audio along with a couple of very informative extras. This becomes a quality release for an effective film.
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