Movie review: Doc tells story that spawned “Dog Day Afternoon”

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From the August 14, 2014 edition

“The Dog” is the unbelievable true story of the true story they unbelievably made into 1975’s classic “Dog Day Afternoon” starring Al Pacino.

John Wojtowicz was the inspiration for Pacino’s character, an “admitted homosexual” (in the vernacular of news reports of the day) who attempted to rob a Brooklyn bank in order to pay for a sex change operation for his male lover.

Wojtowicz’s real story — which is a concept that should be taken with a grain of salt, given his bravado — is pretty amazing. Directors Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren retell it in his own words, enhanced with stock footage where possible.

Extensive interviews with their subject reveal a larger-than-life character who is endlessly quotable. The bank robbery is only a portion of the story, and it’s equally intriguing to hear a gruff Brooklynite’s tale of the gay rights movement in NYC post-Stonewall. “Anybody can be straight,” he says. “It takes someone special to be gay.”

Hell, I’d recommend “The Dog” for the quotability factor alone. “I’m like Babe Ruth,” Wojtowicz brags. “But I’m the gay Babe Ruth.”

It’s an amazing story he tells, one that spans gay rights and a media circus. You won’t know exactly what is true at the end, but it’s hard not to be entertained.

Photo courtesy of Drafthouse Films