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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

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.