Now Dig This: “The Boys in the Bank,” a life magazine story by P.F. Kluge and Thomas Moore upon which “Dog Day Afternoon” was based:
“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.
Recalls Barrett: “We had a kind of camaraderie. Every time he’d stress a point he’d walk around the floor three times gesturing, speaking in a real Brooklyn accent. He’d spot a police sniper outside and say, ‘What d’ya think of that sonofabitch! He really wants me, he wants me in the worst way.’ And I’d laugh and say, ‘Yeah, John, I guess he does.’ ”
Sometimes in the lengthening night, John Wojtowiez shares some of his puzzled thoughts with Barrett. He wonders aloud: “Now, I can shoot you and they won’t give me the gas chamber. But if I shoot a cop, I get it. Now I wonder: if I put a gun at your head and another gun in your hand and made you shoot the cop, would you get it?”