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The Towering Inferno (1974)

6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 25,542 users  
Reviews: 189 user | 89 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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Title: The Towering Inferno (1974)

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
Patty
...
Simmons
...
Lisolette
...
Jernigan
...
...
Bigelow
...
...
Paula Ramsay (as Sheila Mathews)
Norman Burton ...
Giddings (as Normann Burton)
Jack Collins ...
Mayor Ramsay
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Storyline

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

Plot Keywords:

fire | trapped | party | architect | skyscraper | See more »

Taglines:

One minute you're attending a party atop the world's tallest skyscraper. The next... you're trapped with 294 other guests in the middle of a fiery hell. See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 December 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Flammendes Inferno  »

Box Office

Budget:

$14,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$116,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(35 mm magnetic prints)| (35 mm optical prints)| (70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Paul Newman and Steve McQueen had previously appeared together in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), which was McQueen's film debut. See more »

Goofs

Lifting the brakes on the scenic elevator would not involve cutting wires and shimming relays (unless there was still power, in which case the brakes wouldn't need to be lifted. Manually lifting the brakes would require large wrenches on the elevator machine itself, and could not be done in 30 seconds. See more »

Quotes

James Duncan: What I wanted to tell us is that Senator Parker is flying in for the dedication tonight. And he's almost guaranteed to sign the Urban Renewal Contract. Now do you know what that means? Skyscrapers like this all over the country! You design 'em, I'll build 'em.
Doug Roberts: Don't you think you're suffering from an edifice complex?
James Duncan: You'll never leave.
Doug Roberts: Right after the party - come on downstairs and watch me burn my black tie.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #26.79 (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

The Morning After
(uncredited)
Written by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn
Played at the party when Roberts is first reporting the fire to Duncan
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Fire cracker
19 April 2004 | by (St. Louis, Missouri) – See all my reviews

The all-star blockbuster THE TOWERING INFERNO proves that you can make a bad film that still manages to be a great movie. Contrary to conventional wisdom, special effects and elaborate stunt work can actually be the star of a movie and provide ample compensation for poor writing, clumsy direction and really amateurish acting.

THE TOWERING INFERNO is, of course, a disaster movie, the methodical destruction of a high-rise skyscraper, along with many of its tenants. It came on the heels of THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE and quite honestly is no match for that film's delicious mix of sappy sentimentality and hammy heroics. But, while its dramatic quality is only marginally superior to hack films like AIRPORT '75 and the atrocious EARTHQUAKE, INFERNO provides a masterful blend of audience manipulation and technical craftsmanship. As Paul Newman pointed out to the press, neither he nor his perpetual professional rival Steve McQueen are the star of the film: the fire is the star. And as appropriate to any star, the fire, in all of its glorious mayhem, is lovingly filmed and given a wide berth to overact with style.

The rest of the cast should be so lucky. The remarkable, once-in-a-lifetime cast (Newman, McQueen, Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Fred Astaire, etc.) behave like troopers, even though they are primarily reduced to being little more than high priced props. Most of the scenes involving actual human interaction seem rushed and the inept line readings of the inane dialogue suggest that no one bothered with retakes, let alone rehearsals. But such moments are little more than filler, marking time between some of the most remarkable actions sequences ever filmed. The helicopter rescue of the derailed scenic elevator is heartstoppingly thrilling, even as you realize that it is absolutely physically impossible. And it is overshadowed by the explosive final showdown with the villainous fire. Hollywood has cinematically destroyed greater amounts of real estate, but seldom with such style.

As art, THE TOWERING INFERNO is a fizzle, but as a cheap carnival thrill show it's pretty hot stuff.


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