70s2. Class, Sexuality, and Time in Dog Day Afternoon


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70s2. Class, Sexuality, and Time in Dog Day Afternoon

  1. 1. US Cinema of the 1970s: Class, Sexuality, and Time in Dog Day Afternoon Prof. Julia Leyda September 10, 2013
  2. 2. quiz In Dog Day Afternoon, Sonny has two wives— explain and give some details about each of them. How are they portrayed in the movie? What is their function in the plot?
  3. 3. 1970s vigilante movies  climate of anger and mistrust toward law enforcement  “anti-establishment” feelings against Nixon, Vietnam war, recession, energy crisis  police and private citizens who break the law in search of “justice,” including revenge  Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry series, also Billy Jack series, Taxi Driver, The Godfather, most blaxploitation movies  Dog Day Afternoon departs from these by making a bank robber the sympathetic leading role
  4. 4. economy in Dog Day Afternoon  working-class Brooklyn setting  white ethnic (Italian, Polish), Latino, African American  recession economy: inflation, unemployment  union jobs vs. bank tellers (clip)  anti-capitalist populism: “What kind of a crime is the robbing of a bank, compared to the founding of a bank?” Bertolt Brecht
  5. 5. evocation of resistance movements  “Attica! Attica!” Sonny shouts to fire up the crowd (clip)  NY state prison rebellion after murder of George Jackson, black activist (1971)  later this semester: Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever imitates Sonny yelling “Attica!”  Vietnam veterans fight for benefits  talking back to the television interviewer, media critique  bank employees challenge manager, corporate bosses  consumer vs. giant corporation
  6. 6. characterization in DDA  similarly marginalized: bank robbers, bank employees, crowd  Sonny: sympathetic, caring, complex, neurotic  contrasting NYPD Maretti vs. FBI: angry, incompetent vs. cold, technocratic  victory of the FBI  impersonal, bland, expressionless, unemotional (opposite of both Maretti and Sonny)  federal authority figure as frightening, not quite human
  7. 7. NYPD and FBI
  8. 8. sexuality in DDA  knowledge of Sonny’s bisexuality cleverly delayed: after audience develops sympathy for him  after his sexuality is revealed, movie becomes more serious, slightly less sympathetic (as we learn how both wives feel)  Sonny as desexualized: never in the same room with Leon, Angie is unpleasant and unattractive  Leon’s character: sympathetic, but reinforces association of gayness with neuroticism and unhappiness  acceptance of crowd, bank employees; anxiety of Sal  gay militants: visual markers of
  9. 9. Leon in the barbershop
  10. 10. time in cinema 1. film time: running time of movie, usually about 90-120 minutes 2. movie time: duration of the plot (what is shown) and story (what is not shown), usually longer than film time, can be hundreds or thousands of years 3. “mise-en-temps”: how movies construct time 4. narrative pressure: reasons for conventional emphasis on story
  11. 11. film time according to Syd Field, running time is usually structured into 20-30-minute sections, or acts, separated by noticeably important turning points, or plot points conventional four-act structure:  setup: introduces characters, setting, premise, and inciting incident  complication: main plot, problem to be solved  development: shows characters and plot in more detail  climax: highest point of the movie, what we were waiting for
  12. 12. movie time  how best to use the two hours?  coincidences to move plot along quickly  passing time builds suspense  set deadlines or time limits in the story  shift in tone from comedy to drama  multiple plotlines:  keep audience interested  build suspense
  13. 13. question  can you name some of the subplots in Dog Day Afternoon?
  14. 14. movie time and plot  Dog Day Afternoon has main plot about the robbery, plus  friendship plot  hostages plot  wives plot  police vs. FBI plot  crime / detective movies use investigation plot to  release information gradually to build suspense  create spectacle in form of action (chase, fight scenes)  provide closure at the end
  15. 15. mise-en-temps how movies construct time; unlike literature, movies can’t use past tense—always happening “now”  cut irrelevant parts, emphasize relevant  show what we need and help us put it together  preserve continuity with editing, effects, etc.  subtitles: tell us “meanwhile” or “Tuesday” or “10 years earlier”  voiceovers explain time for us: “when I was a child”  calendar pages show us date or time moving ahead
  16. 16. mise-en-temps how movies construct time through editing  dissolve: shows a brief passage of time  wipe: shows a change not in time but place  fade: shows a longer passage of time
  17. 17. editing that was a dissolve, in which the image on the screen seems to dissolve into the next image next: a wipe
  18. 18. editing that was a wipe, in which one image is replaced by another with what looks like a wiping motion from one side of the screen to the other next: a fade
  19. 19. narrative pressure  constraints of movie-viewing: sitting still in a dark, public space for a long time can cause tension or anxiety  movies build more tension through suspense and anticipation
  20. 20. narrative pressure Thomas Elsaesser suggests that narrative (story) is central to Hollywood movies because it satisfies the psychological needs created by the viewing situation: in a dark, public room surrounded by strangers
  21. 21. discussion question  How does Dog Day Afternoon create narrative pressure? Which subplots were you most worried about? Why?