Article: ‘Heat’ at 20: Michael Mann on Making a Crime-Drama Classic



Here is a great write up on Heat by Jennifer Wood over at Rolling Stone. This is a look at how the film was made and how it became a classic.

Everything Noir also looked at Heat for its 20 year anniversary here:


News: De Niro, Pesci, Pacino, And Scorsese Still Want To Join Forces For The Irishman

Who wouldn’t want to see this! The Irishman is a movie that has been in the works for 5 years and it sounds like there is still hope for this one to be made. With Scorsese directing and a who’s who of the best gangster and neo-noir actors of all time interested in being in it, this should be an instant classic. Here is a link to the full article by Dirk Libbey over at Cinemablend, which also includes a clip of De Niro talking to Fallon about the up coming film.

Re-Watching the Classics: Heat


Heat is 20 years old now!  That is hard to believe, I didn’t know if I should call it a classic, but after 20 years I think we are safe.  This is a Neo-Noir epic with one of the best casts in a noir film ever.

Michael Mann writes and directs, Mann is a legend of neo-noir film making.  He got his start in some great television shows and went on to make some amazing movies.  This one may be his best.

Lets start with the cast, this is the first time we see two of the greatest actors of our time on the screen at the same time with each other: Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro.  There seen together was filmed at a restaurant in Los Angles, one where you can actually sit and have a meal at the same table even today.  They did appear in another film before this, a little film called Godfather II, but were never on screen together.


This is almost like two films in one, we are rooting for our brilliant thief and hoping he gets away and lives happily ever after.  We are also rooting for our hard nosed cop that has to find the violent criminals before they get away clean.  It’s a cat and mouse game that we can not pick a side on.  The trip is worth it.

Though this is enough to make any movie big, no need to have anyone else in the cast, but we do.  A lot of my favorite crime actors are in this film and I’m just going to list them here:

Val Kilmer plays a gambling addict that earns his money stealing.

Ashley Judd plays his wife and our only real femme fatale.

Jon Voight plays the ring leader of the bad guys, interesting note: his character is based on Edward Bunker, a career criminal that has appeared in many crime films and has written many noir books himself.  I plan on reading and reviewing some of his books on the website later.

A young Natalie Portman is in here as the angry step daughter, she already showed some amazing talent in this small role.

We also have an all star supporting cast of crime film regulars:  Tom Sizemore, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi,Ted Levine, Dennis Haysbert,  William Fichtner, Kevin Gage, Hank Azaria, Danny Trejo, Henry Rollins, and Jeremy Piven.

This movie actually is based on a real life cop and his pursuit of a career thief.  The real story is about Chuck Adamson, a real life cop in Chicago who meet in a non violent situation with the real Neil McCauley and chased him for part of his career.  Adamson also helped write on some of Mann’s T.V. shows and is also the source for one of Mann’s other movies, Thief.

At almost 3 hours long, this is a long film, but worth it.

Re-Watching the Classics: Dog Day Afternoon

986260100c954ce9b2b37bf8ad8c3417Dog Day Afternoon is a neo-noir film made in 1975, based on real events from 1972.  John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Naturile try to rob a branch of Chase Manhattan bank in Brooklyn, New York. The reason they are trying to rob the bank is  for Wojtowicz’s lover, Ernest Aron, who is trying to pay for a sex change operation.  This is to crazy to be true but it is!

Even though this film was mostly improvised, Frank Pierson won an Academy Award for his screenplay. He got the idea from a Life Magazine article.  This was nominated for 5 Academy Awards in total, but only won one.  This movie was unfortunately up against One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest for most of its awards.  This will be remembered as one of Al Pacino’s best performances and the 4th time he was nominated for an Academy Award in 4 consecutive years.  All 4 nominations where for classic neo-noir roles as well, with The Godfather, Serpico, The Godfather Part II, and this performance.  All 4 are now legendary roles, but he didn’t win for any of them.

This film was directed by legendary director Sidney Lumet.  Lumet made some of the greatest films of all time including many neo-noir films.  We will be re-looking at many of his films later on this blog.

Our co-star is John Cazale, who was way to old to play the part of real-life 18-year-old Sal.  Pacino insisted on Cazale playing the role, even though Lumet thought he was all wrong.  When Lumet saw his audition he hired him on the spot. Cazale, who’s short career only produced 5 films before his death from cancer didn’t disappoint.  All 5 films he appeared in were nominated for best picture and all 5 are classics.  They are:

The Godfather

The Conversation

The Godfather II

Dog Day Afternoon

The Deer Hunter

Who knows what Cazale could have done if his time here was longer.


Other standouts in the cast are Charles Durning as our Police Sargent in charge, Carol Kane and Penelope Allen as two of the bank tellers who become hostages, and Lance Henriksen as the bus driver.

This is required viewing for the fan of grimy 1970’s film, and noir and neo-noir fans.  Trivia note, John Wojtowicz lover did get his sex change operation after all, paid for by Wojtowicz earnings from selling his story for this film.