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The Towering Inferno (1974)

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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.



(novel), (novel) | 2 more credits »
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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)


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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The tallest building in the world is on fire. You are there with 294 other guests... ...There's no way down. There's no way out. See more »


Action | Drama | Thriller


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1 January 1975 (Singapore)  »

Also Known As:

Flammendes Inferno  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$14,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)| (Japan theatrical release)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35:1 (35mm) 2.2:1(70mm)
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Did You Know?


Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »


Chief Mike O'Hallorhan would have to be the most incompetent fire chief ever he tells Duncan there is a fire in the building and instead of ordering complete evacuation of the building which is right and proper he tells Duncan that he can continue having the party in the building below the fire something a Fire Chief would never do. See more »


Lorrie: There never were any firemen, were there?
Dan Bigelow: I said that to make it easier on you. I switched off the phones. There's no way to call out. Nobody knows we're up here.
Lorrie: [smiles bravely] Well, I always did want to die in bed.
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Crazy Credits

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


Referenced in The Social Network (2010) See more »


The Morning After
Written by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn
Played at the party when Roberts is first reporting the fire to Duncan
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Thrilling and entertaining disaster movie but full clichés and stereotypes with strong performances from Newman and McQueen
25 August 2011 | by See all my reviews

¨Towering Inferno¨ title tells the story in disaster epic about a burning skyscraper and originally released in Panavision . This is the undisputed king of the catastrophe films of the 70s , a successful film that grossed at box office . This formula disaster movie from Irwin Allen ( previously winner of numerous Oscars for Poseidon ) concerns about a newly built skyscraper located in San Francisco . When takes place on the recently constructed high-rise office building and hotel a fire due to substandard material . Then , the all-star cast (Faye Dunaway, Robert Wagner , Robert Vaughn , Susan Blakely , and many others ) become caught in its penthouse restaurant . An architect (Paul Newman) and the fire fighter chief ( Steve McQueen ) combine their efforts to stop firing as when the building is set blaze .

This catastrophe movie blends action , intrigue , disaster spectacle, suspense and emotional byplay with romance included . Our heroes get stuck in the skyscraper before it burns and when fire takes place they go into action ; as they pay tribute to firemen . Filmed at the height of the disaster genre from the 7os ,this entry in the spectacular series profits of a strong acting by starring duo . The protagonists spend most of their time devising grisly ways for avoid to die and to be fired . The explosions , pyrotechnics , floods are spectacular and breathtaking , being well made by FX expert L.B. Abbot , but the film is just another habitual cold-blooded Hollywood product . Succeeds in combining various talented actors , an all star cast came together formed by Paul Newman and Steve McQueen who tie for film's top casting honors ; furthermore , William Holden , Fred Astaire , Jennifer Jones , Richard Chamberlain , O.J. Simpson , and very secondaries as Dabney Coleman , Don Gordon , Susan Flannery and Gregory Sierra . Musical Score by the classic John Williams , Spielberg's usual ; the song titled ¨We may never love like this again¨ got Academy Award winner . Colorful and gripping photography by Joseph Biroc and Fred Koenekamp , two of the main cameramen of the 60s and 70s ; both of whom had Oscar winner for cinematography . This big-budgeted disaster movie is professionally directed by John Guillermin , habitual of disaster films ( Skyjacked , King Kong, Kong lives ) and airplane movies (Blue Max) . It's an Irwin Allen's rehash of the former disaster movie clichés in which the splendid casting stands out . The picture is one of the last Allen's hits along with ¨Poseidon¨ , after that , succeeds failures as ¨Beyond Poseidon¨, ¨Swarm¨ and ¨When the time ran out¨. Rating : Good and entertaining , it's a fairly watchable disaster movie.

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