The Towering Inferno (1974)

PG  |   |  Action, Drama, Thriller  |  20 December 1974 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 28,539 users  
Reviews: 193 user | 92 critic

At the opening party of a colossal, but poorly constructed, office building, a massive fire breaks out that threatens to destroy the tower and everyone in it.



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Won 3 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paula Ramsay (as Sheila Mathews)
Giddings (as Normann Burton)
Jack Collins ...
Mayor Ramsay


Doug Roberts, Architect, returns from a long vacation to find work nearly completed on his skyscraper. He goes to the party that night concerned he's found that his wiring specifications have not been followed and that the building continues to develop short circuits. When the fire begins, Michael O'Halleran is the chief on duty as a series of daring rescues punctuate the terror of a building too tall to have a fire successfully fought from the ground. Written by John Vogel <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


"The Towering Inferno" Is Not Just The Story Of The World's Tallest Building In Flames, It's The Story Of People... See more »


Action | Drama | Thriller


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 December 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Flammendes Inferno  »

Box Office


$14,000,000 (estimated)


$116,000,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System) (5.0) (L-R)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Irwin Allen originally wanted Steve McQueen to play the part of building architect Doug Roberts. McQueen however, fought for and got the role of fire chief O'Halloran. The role of Doug Roberts went to Paul Newman. See more »


In the very first shot of the water tanks and floors being blown up, the concrete floor is shown already blown apart a split second before the explosions begin. See more »


Doug Roberts: I thought we were building something that... where people could work and live and be SAFE! If you had to cut costs, why didn't you cut floors instead of corners?
James Duncan: Now listen. Any decisions that were made for the use of alternate building materials were made because I as a builder have a right to make those decisions; if I remain within the building code and god-dammit, I did!
Doug Roberts: [Chuckling] Building code? Jesus. Building code. Come on, Dunc, I mean that's a standard cop-out when you're in trouble. I...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. Pictures logos don't appear in the beginning. See more »


We May Never Love Like This Again
Maureen McGovern sings
Words and Music by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One of my all-time favorites
9 July 2005 | by (Wooster,OH) – See all my reviews

I've seen a lot of great films during my life. However, somehow, The Towering Inferno holds its place near the top of my list of great films, and is at the top of my list of favorite films.

While Irwin Allen's films often have many flaws, they're always entertaining. You won't feel cheated by an Irwin Allen film. This holds true especially for The Towering Inferno. There is something for almost everyone in this film, drama, romance, disaster, and good vs. evil are all present in this epic film.

The plot of the film is pretty well known to anyone who has at least heard of the film. During opening night ceremonies at the Glass Tower, the 138 story skyscraper located in the heart of San Francisco catches fire. What starts as a small electrical fire soon turns into "a night of blazing suspense", with fires breaking out all over the building.

The hard work put into this film is obvious. While the script is rather melodramatic at times, this does not take away from the feeling of peril in the film. The cast may be the best cast ever assembled in Hollywood history. The special effects, for the most part, stand the test of time.

Don't ask me why this film has gotten such a bad rep over the years. The film was nominated for best picture, and won Oscars for best cinematography, best special effects, and best song. The film grossed over 116 million dollars, and with adjusted totals, that is still more than films such as The Passion of the Christ, and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

I recommend that this film be seen. It is well worth renting, or if you can find it, buying.

45 of 58 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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