The Dog Blu-ray Review
I would like to take this time to thank John Wojtowicz. In 1975 Warner Brothers made a film about his exploits. A film with a television commercial so intense that, when my father asked me what I’d like to do for my 15th birthday, I told him I’d like to go see the movie. On September 21, 1975 my father dropped me off to see the film about the bank robbery Wojtowicz attempted to rob, DOG DAY AFTERNOON. Unfortunately the film was rated “R” and I was too young to see it by myself. The girl in the box office then asked me if I had seen “JAWS” yet. I hadn’t. Nearly four decades later it remains my favorite film of all time. Thanks, John!
What’s impressive about the new film THE DOG is that it not only takes a look at the man who tried to rob a bank for that most noble of causes…love…but also gives a very in-depth look at the gay rights movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. A staunch Barry Goldwater supporter in 1964, Wojtowicz got engaged and joined the Army. It was in basic training that he had his first gay experience and he soon found himself enjoying a bisexual lifestyle. When he returned home from Vietnam he married his fiancée, Carmen, but still pursued, in his words, his only vice: Sex. In July 1969 he met a man named Ernest Aron and the two were soon “married” by a gay priest. After their marriage, Ernest decided that he wanted to get a sex change. Wojtowicz was against the procedure but finally decided that he would fund the operation, deciding to rob a branch of the Chase Manhattan Bank to get the money. Things do not go as planned (one of the robbers drops his shotgun as he walks into the bank and then sprints away, the police show up much quicker than expected, another robber is shot dead at the airport by the FBI) and Wojtowicz is sent to prison. There he becomes a celebrity, both good and bad. Some inmates are in awe of him after they learn he has sold his story to Hollywood. Others want to harm him for the same reason. Once released from prison he begins to use what little celebrity he has to make a buck, going as far as to apply for a security guard position at the very bank he robbed, explaining that not only would nobody ever try to rub “the Dog’s” bank but that he could also sign autographs for new customers.
The story is told through tons of archival footage, from early videotaped meetings at the Gay Alliance Association to interviews with many of those involved in the story including Carmen, Ernest (now known as Liz Eden), Wojtowicz’s mother and many of his acquaintances from his life. Wojtowicz, who passed away in 2006, is featured in a series of interviews that not only chronicle his life’s story but his life as well. We meet him when he’s heavyset and fairly healthy and leave him when he’s thin and frail, a victim of the cancer that will eventually claim him. But throughout the film he carries with him an almost entitled attitude. Why else would he pose for pictures outside the scene of the crime wearing a t-shirt reading “I ROBBED THIS BANK!”
Video: Presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the modern day interviews stand out clearly while a lot of the vintage material has an almost “amateur” feel to it. Not a bad thing, considering much of the older footage was experimental video footage in the formats early days of home availability.
Audio: Presented in DTS-HD 5.1, there really is no surround to speak of. Everything comes out of the center channel.
Audio Commentary by Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren: a very informative commentary track by the film’s producers and co-directors. Wojtowicz was certainly a character to remember and both speak of him and his ways with fondness.
Deleted Scenes: (38:28): A collection of both snippets and complete interviews that, while interesting, really don’t add anything to the story that isn’t already covered.
Trailers: A collection of other films released by the Alamo Drafthouse Film Department branch.