An astonishing documentary portrait of the late John Wojtowicz, whose attempted robbery of a Brooklyn bank to finance his male lover’s sex-reassignment surgery was the real-life inspiration for the classic Al Pacino film Dog Day Afternoon.
Allison Berg, Frank Keraudren
John Wojtowicz took pride in being a pervert. Coming of age in the 1960s, his libido was excessive even by the libertine standards of the era, with multiple wives and lovers, both women and men. In August 1972, he attempted to rob a Brooklyn bank to finance his lover's sex-reassignment surgery. The act resulted in a fourteen-hour hostage situation that was broadcast on TV. Three years later Al Pacino portrayed his crime in Dog Day Afternoon. The film had a profound influence on Wojtowicz (who pronounced his name "Woto-wits"). When he emerged from a six-year prison sentence, he was known as "The Dog."
Directors Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren began filming The Dog in 2002. Their long-term dedication pays off in this unforgettable portrait capturing all of the subject's complexity: he is, by turns, lovable, maniacal, heroic, and self-destructive. To call him larger than life feels like an understatement.
Drawing upon extraordinary archival
footage, the film shuffles between
the 1970s and the 2000s. We gain a
historic perspective on New York's gay
liberation movement, in which Wojtowicz
played an active role. In later footage, he
remains a subversive force, backed by the unconditional love of his mother Terry,
whose wit and charm infuse the film. How
and why the bank robbery took place is
recounted in gripping detail by Wojtowicz
and various eyewitnesses. Passionate and
profane, The Dog makes no apologies for
being who he is: "Live every day as if it's
your last and whoever doesn't like it can go
fuck themselves and a rubber duck."