Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I WANT PEOPLE OUT THERE. I WANT REPORTERS OUT THERE. THEY'RE WHAT'S KEEPING ME ALIVE:  Forty years ago today, John Stanley Wojtowicz, a gay Vietnam War veteran, along with 18-year-old Salvatore Natuarale attempted to rob a Chase Manhattan branch in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, to obtain the $3,000 he needed for his partner's sex change operation.

If it sounds familiar, well, it is, and the NYT has a nice set of articles (overview, interview with hostage, photos) commemorating the anniversary. Among the links therein is the Life Magazine article which formed the basis for Sidney Lumet's masterful film:
“If they had been my houseguests on a Saturday night, it would have been hilarious,” Shirley Ball recalls. “Especially with John’s antics, the way he hopped around all over the place, the way he talked. John called me ‘mouth’ because I was the talkative one. It was, ‘Hey, mouth, do this’ and ‘Hey, mouth, do that.’ I really liked them both. They tried to be nice—except when they were cornered. Such aboveboard guys, they even told us they would kill us if they had to.” 
“I’m supposed to hate you guys, but I’ve had more laughs tonight than I’ve had in weeks,” bank manager Barret tells John Wojtowicz.


  1. One of my all time favorite movies...thanks for this. I'll be reading in depth once I'm home.

  2. My favorite Pacino for sure.  And though aware it was based on actual events, I'd never read the Life Magazine article.  Thanks for the links.

  3. J.O'Connor3:35 PM

    I always wondered what happened to Mr. Wojtowicz after Dog Day Afternoon.  Wikipedia says he was sentenced to twenty years, but only served six and was out of prison by 1978.  It also says that, in a roundabout way, the robbery did pay for his boyfriend's sex change operation.  Wojtowicz paid for reassignment surgery using the money he received from the Dog Day Afternoon producers for the rights to his story.  That irony aside, his story doesn't seem to be a happy one from the few details given.  Wojtowicz's girlfriend died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1987 and he was reported to be living on welfare in 2003.  He died of cancer in 2006.