The Towering Inferno

"Very Good"

The Towering Inferno Review


There is so much to love about The Towering Inferno it's hard to know where to begin. Steve McQueen and Paul Newman are together at last! Fred Astaire gets drenched! O.J. Simpson saves a cat! Faye Dunaway wears Dacron! As one of the first mid-'70s disaster epics (produced by the King of Disaster, Irwin Allen), this supersized burnfest inspired countless star-studded copycats and lives on today as a sort of camp classic of its kind. It doesn't have Red Buttons like The Poseidon Adventure does, and it doesn't have Victoria Principal's cleavage jiggling in the tremors of Earthquake, but it does have pretty much everything else.

On the occasion of the dedication of the world's tallest skyscraper (which I for one would never consider building in earthquake-prone San Francisco, by the way), an A-list party is planned for the top floor. This way to the glass-enclosed elevator, please. Architect Doug Roberts (Newman) and builder Jim Duncan (William Holden) are proud, but they don't know that Duncan's cost-cutting son-in-law (Richard Chamberlain) has compromised safety for profit. Sure enough, when a small fire breaks out, things go really bad really fast, and firemen Michael O'Halloran (McQueen) and Harry Jernigan (Simpson) arrive on the scene holding their hoses.

Several action threads unspool. Newman has to save some kids in a stairwell, a crowd is trapped in one of the glass elevators, the partygoers begin to panic, O.J. saves the cat, and the bad guy has to be exposed. With so much going on, the whole enterprise might descend into chaos (which is what happens to Earthquake), but here the plots weave nicely. All the drama eventually points to McQueen and Newman as they devise a daring plan involving two million gallons of water as their last chance to save the lives of everyone left in the building.

In fact, it's that climax that, like the capsizing scene in The Poseidon Adventure, is a quintessential moment of '70s pop culture. Irwin Allen clearly loved to mastermind and supervise these moments of epic Hollywood special effects showmanship. The cool thing is that what you're watching isn't computer-generated. Those are real flames, and that really is two million gallons of water rushing through a Hollywood sound stage. Heck, the making-of featurette is probably more exciting than the film itself.

So break out the popcorn, sit back, and enjoy a galaxy of stars picking up their fat paychecks and having a great time. They absolutely don't make 'em like this anymore.

You're tearing me apart!



The Towering Inferno

Facts and Figures

Genre: Action/Adventure

Run time: 165 mins

In Theaters: Friday 20th December 1974

Box Office Worldwide: $116M

Budget: $14M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Warner Bros. Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: John Guillerman, Irwin Allen

Producer: Irwin Allen

Starring: as Chief Michael O'Hallorhan, as Doug Roberts, as Susan Franklin, as Gary Parker, as James Duncan, O.J. Simpson as Jernigan, as Harlee Claiborne, as Patty, as Simmons, as Lisolette, as Bigelow, as Lorrie, as Paula Ramsay, as Giddings, Jack Collins as Mayor Ramsay

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.