Dog Day Afternoon

Posted on 09. Dec, 2015 by in Catholic Family Life, Priests

Dog Day Afternoon is a movie echoing the events of the first major hostage-taking situation on American soil in the commission of a bank robbery in the early 1970s.  The motive, as is now famously known, was to get the money for the sex-change operation of one of the robbers’ gay lovers.  Initially, when Wortzik, the character played by Al Pacino holds up the bank, he announces: “I’m a Catholic, and I don’t want to hurt anybody, understand?”


He later talks tougher with the police, “We’re Vietnam veterans.  Killing don’t mean anything to us”.  He takes the bank employees hostage with an end to the desirability of using female hostages (at the time the majority of the bank tellers) as bargaining chips, additionally regarding the fact that he believed the police were more reluctant to shoot at female hostages, particularly married women with children, as an insurance policy for when he would leave the bank building.


Wojtowicz got both his hostages and the many onlookers on his side, positioning himself as the little guy fighting against tyranny. … As depicted in “Dog Day Afternoon,” the crime turned into a 14-hour circus that had over 2,000 onlookers on the scene rooting for Wojtowicz, who, at one point, threw money out to the crowd. Westenberg bailed before the crime got under way, Naturale was killed by the FBI and Wojtowicz wound up serving five years in prison.

During the standoff between the bank robbers and the police, the news media reveal that his relationship with another man, as well as the fact that they were married by a priest, who was reportedly “defrocked” for doing it.  Meanwhile, he has been engaging in violent and impulsive behavior which has been scaring his (presumably also church married) female wife with whom he has three minor children.


The self-described “pervert” met his wife, Carmen, at a bank where they both worked in the mid-1960s. Wojtowicz was drafted soon after and had his first homosexual experience during basic training. After Vietnam, Wojtowicz (still married to Carmen) joined the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), but was driven more by a desire for sex than politics.


In a matter of hours and in cliche fashion, at least some of the woman hostages develop Stockholm syndrome.  One, a young Hispanic woman named (of course!) Maria, gives Sal, a first-time plane traveller, a rosary and offers to pray for him, when she is made to leave the police van which drove them to the airport.


Once he sold the film rights to his story, the money was used for Aron’s operation. But after the surgery in 1973, Aron — now Liz — told Wojtowicz that she never wanted to see him again. Wojtowicz slit his wrists, but survived.

He found love in prison, “marrying” fellow con George Heath — both got out in 1978 and moved in with Wojtowicz’s mother. Wojtowicz had the nerve to apply for a guard position at Chase Manhattan Bank. Instead, he found a job “cleaning toilet bowls on Park Avenue.” In the years to come, he would spend time in front of the bank signing autographs and wearing a T-shirt that read, “I Robbed This Bank.”

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