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[personal profile] intertribal
Dog Day Afternoon, another great '70s crime movie that I had never seen before.  And by another, I mean in addition to Taxi Driver - my repertoire is pretty slight in this area, unfortunately.  The IMDb tagline is "A man robs a bank to pay for his lover's operation; it turns into a hostage situation and a media circus," which I guess is accurate, but makes the movie sound more farcical than it is.  It kind of makes me sad, how commonly-referenced and parodied this scene is, because when he starts saying "put 'em down!" I actually got a little weepy.


By the way, this is what "Attica!" is a reference to.  I highly suggest you click the link, if you don't already know.  And I wouldn't say that Dog Day Afternoon is even unfair to cops - Detective Moretti, the first hostage negotiator, is actually a sympathetic character who tries to stop the moronic cops who assume an asthmatic black hostage being released is actually one of the bank robbers and immediately start treating him as such.  And both Sonny and Travis Bickle, the criminal heroes of Dog Day Afternoon and Taxi Driver, are veterans of Vietnam.  

Yeah, I know I still haven't talked about Taxi Driver.  I guess what I can say is that this type of movie - the atmosphere, the narrative style, the "message," etc. - is not at all what I write, and something I can't spend a lot of time with before I become claustrophobic and panicky, but is something I really, genuinely admire.  The Attica scene would never happen today, and we're worse off for it.  We're so inundated with cop-centric crime narratives (even the grittier stuff you see on cable channels, it's pretty much all "woe the fractured lives of cops," so I guess hooray for Sons of Anarchy?  But even that is about alternative methods of "law enforcement," not being anti-establishment, so...), so conditioned to look at crime as a single, selfish act of law-breaking, and very quick to excuse police and military brutality as somehow "deserved," no matter what.  You see this on 24 and Law & Order: SVU.  I suppose we made the bed we'll die in. 

We'd much prefer to read stories about "police vigilantes" acting outside the law in fulfillment with some kind of higher calling of justice, destroying evil-doers - a short story in Alan Heathcock's collection Volt, "Peacekeeper," is exactly this sort of story.  There's Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil or Chaotic Neutral and it's this big cosmic struggle played out usually on the dead or missing body of a young woman.  Those are popular stories.  But that isn't really the story of police work in the U.S., just like it isn't the story of the U.S. military abroad.  The real story is a hell of a lot more banal than that. 

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