At the opening party of a colossal—but poorly constructed—skyscraper, a massive fire breaks out, threatening to destroy the tower and everyone in it.
Successful 70’s disaster flick isn’t anywhere near as entertaining as “The Poseidon Adventure” RELEASED IN 1974 and directed by John Guillermin, "The Towering Inferno" details events in San Francisco when the world's tallest building, The Glass Tower (138 stories), catches aflame due to an electrical short and threatens hundreds of lives during the grand dedication ceremony. Paul Newman plays the architect, Steve McQueen the fire chief, William Holden the wealthy contractor and Richard Chamberlain his arrogant cost-cutting son-in-law. This overblown disaster flick has a great all-star cast and was a huge success at the box office, but it pales in comparison to “The Poseidon Adventure,” released two years earlier. It lacks the compelling story, the great human interest and iconic score (even though John Williams composed both), plus it’s 48 minutes longer than “Poseidon,” which gives it a tedious vibe; that is, until the engrossing last half hour. On the female front there’s the striking Faye Dunaway, the architect’s babe; Susan Blakely, who looks great in tight slacks; and Susan Flannery, who’s smokin’ in a shirt & panties. Unfortunately, whereas “Poseidon” knocked it out of the ballpark with its women, “Towering” fails to capitalize on its resources. The film’s has its attractions and is still worth seeing if you favor the cast and 70’s disaster flicks. It’s just a letdown considering its streamlined predecessor and potential. THE MOVIE RUNS 2 hours, 45 minutes and was shot in San Francisco and Los Angeles. WRITERS: Stirling Silliphant wrote the script based on the books “The Tower” by Richard Martin Stern and “The Glass Inferno” by Thomas N. Scortia & Frank M. Robinson. ADDITIONAL CAST NOTABLES: Fred Astaire, Jennifer Jones, O.J. Simpson, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner and Mike Lookinland (aka Bobby Brady). GRADE: B-/C+
The crowning glory of a much maligned genre. A newly built state of the art high-rise is hosting a big society gathering when a fire starts up on the 81st floor... Warner Brothers & 20th Century Fox were both keen to cash in on the success of 1972s The Poseidon Adventure, Warner's buying the rights to The Tower, and Fox buying the rights to The Glass Inferno, both novels about burning skyscrapers and seemingly ripe for a big screen adaptation. Enter producer Irwin Allen who smartly suggested that both studios should come together and produce one blockbusting genre defining film. Splitting the cost down the middle, The Towering Inferno was born and went on to make over $100 million across the globe, a very impressive take for its time, and certainly a shot in the arm for disaster genre enthusiasts. The Towering Inferno is far from flawless, it contains some cheese sodden dialogue, and the film's running time doesn't quite do the film any favours. However, the film's strengths far outweigh the handful of negatives that are often used to beat it up with. The sets are fabulous (Academy Award Nominated) and all to perish in the fire, the cinematography from Fred J Koenekamp (Academy Award Winner) is lush and puts the fire in the eyes, while the score from John Williams (Academy Award Nominated) is suitably poignant and edgy. What about the action sequences? The set pieces? With many of the illustrious cast doing their own stunts! All impacting sharp on the ears thanks to the brilliant sound from Soderberg & Lewis (Academy Award Nominated), with the cast itself a reminder of a wonderful time when only the big names were considered for the big projects, McQueen, Newman, Holden, Astaire (Academy Award Nominated) & Dunaway rolling off the tongue like a who's who of entertainment heavyweights. Some say that The Towering Inferno finally killed off the ailing disaster genre, no it didn't, it crowned it, and all the others that followed were merely trailing in its wake. The Towering Inferno is a spectacular production that positively booms with high entertainment values, no expense is spared in the pursuit of entertaining the masses, it's thoughtful in texture and it teaches as it plays and it remains to me a wonderful archaic gem. 9/10