Friday, January 11, 2008

Sirius Crimes Unit: Murphy's Law

While Jake was probably putting the finishing touches on his latest video last Saturday night, the missus and I watched the classic 1975 film, Dog Day Afternoon. I haven't seen the film in, uh, a dog's age, and hadn't remembered it was the first major role of none other than Mr. Millennium himself, Lance Henriksen.

Of course, the first thing I did this morning was look up the story the film was based on. When I was done, I began to ponder the Heliopolitan symbolism in The X Files and whose idea it actually was to put it there.

Dog Day Afternoon is just an absolute mindfield of delicious semiotic goodness. Hollywood macher Frank Pierson won a Best Screenplay Oscar for his script, based on P.F. Kluge's Life magazine article "The Boys in the Bank", perhaps a play on the pioneering 1970 gay film, The Boys in the Band. As Wikipedia tells us, "the term "Dog Days" was coined by the ancient Romans, who called these days caniculares dies (days of the dogs) after Sirius (the "Dog Star"), the brightest star in the heavens besides the Sun."

Ah, yes, now we are in the realm of the gods. Real life bank robber John Wojtowicz was renamed Sonny Wortzik, or perhaps "Sunny" Wortzik. Wojtowicz's real life lover, trannie superstar Ernest Aron, becomes Leon Schermer, reminding us the leonine Sphinx's intimate relationship with the rising Sun. Only Sal Naturile kept his real name, for reasons that will soon be obvious. The real life bank was a branch of the Chase Manhattan Bank, whose logo contains an mirror image of the Process Church logo in its negative space.

Lance Henriksen plays a pivotal role in the film, offering a kind of ritual replay of the Kennedy Assassination. Henriksen's character 'Agent Murphy' drives the limousine van containing Sonny, his partner Sal and the hostages. As the bank robbers arrive at JFK airport (where else?), Murphy diverts Sal's attention and puts a bullet through his forehead. The women in the limousine scream and scramble for cover. Of course 'Sal' is short for Salvadore, meaning 'savior.' If that isn't synchromysticism, then there is no such thing.

Dog Day scribe Frank Pierson is a very important character in the word of showbiz semiotics. Besides being one of the top bigwigs in the Academy, he was also the ex-husband of Dori Pierson, who later went on to marry none other than Chris Carter, Lance Henriksen's future boss. It was Dori who was responsible for getting Carter out of the surfing magazine racket and into show business. Or was she?

And it was in Millennium that Lance Henriksen was truly initiated in the world of high weirdness. No mean feat given his previous roles in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Aliens...

To Be Continued


  1. "Close Encounters" you say... I dont total recall him in that, interesting, thanks!