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Based upon a real-life incident which occurred in August 1972 in which a Chase Manhattan Bank branch in Gravesend, Brooklyn, New York, was held siege by Sonny, a Vietnam veteran turned bank robber determined to steal enough money ($2500) for his "wife" (Leon, a trans woman; the two, were, according to an onscreen TV news report, married in a church by a priest who was defrocked shortly after, although Leon says to the police that Sal is "married and has children") to undergo a sex change operation. (The real life character upon whom Leon is based did, in fact, get the operation.) On a hot summer afternoon, Sonny and two cohort, Stevie and Sal, go to rob the (fictional) First Savings Bank of Brooklyn. Stevie soon gets nervous and flees. Although the bank manager and female tellers agree not to interfere with the robbery, Sonny finds there is not much to steal, as most of the cash has been picked up for the day. Sonny then gets an unexpected phone call from Captain Moretti of the NYPD, who tells him the place is surrounded by the city's entire police force. Having few options under the circumstances, Sonny nervously bargains with Moretti, demanding safe escort to the airport and a plane out of the country in return for the bank employees' safety.