Script of the Week: Dog Day Afternoon

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Written by Frank Pierson (1925-2012) based on a real-life events. He received an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for this script. Pierson also wrote Cool Hand Luke, A Star is Born, and more recently was the consulting producer of Mad Men.
Directed by Sidney Lumet.

Dog Day Afternoon centres around one event – a bank robbery. Something that the main character thinks will be over in ten minutes escalates into a day-long drama (the original event lasted for 14 hours). It’s a simple plan but one thing goes wrong after another until there is no way out. Without conflict there’s no story and you could say that storytelling is about describing a problem: how the problem comes about (there’s a goal), how the problem gets worse (obstacles in achieving the goal), and how it resolves. Dog Day Afternoon is a good example of how problems (conflict) can escalate and develop in a story. The main character’s goal was to rob the bank and get out. It’s clear from quite early on that the first part of the plan will never be achieved , which takes them to the next goal (act II) – to get out.

P.S. They say that Frank Pierson wrote the screenplay around 12 sequences. See if you can find them.

Read the screenplay here

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