The Towering Inferno (1974)

PG  |   |  Action, Drama, Thriller  |  20 December 1974 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 28,520 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


One Tiny Spark Becomes A Night Of Blazing Suspense. 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?


Released in the same year of the disastrous Joelma building fire in São Paulo, Brazil in February 1st, 1974, which was caused by the same reasons seen in the film (see Joelma 23º Andar (1980)). 191 people perished. See more »


In all of the outside shots of the burning tower the flames are moving too fast (as they would if the building were a miniature). In larger fires the flames move much slower due to their size. See more »


[to Duncan after hearing about Giddings on the phone]
Doug Roberts: Will Giddings is dead. He died twenty minutes ago.
Doug Roberts: Oh, boy. Ohh! I wonder how many more will be dead by tomorrow.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Classic star-studded disaster film....

With the likes of INDEPENDENCE DAY and DIE HARD, which were both influenced by THE TOWERING INFERNO, a new awareness of the potential of the disaster film emerged, culminating in the likes of DEEP IMPACT, ARMAGEDDON and the more recent THE CORE.

The definition of 'all-star cast' and 'star-studded' has changed substantially in the last few years and in fact, the true star of THE TOWERING INFERNO wasn't any actor or star, but the late Irwin Allen, whose career in this type of film ended with the poorly-received WHEN TIME RAN OUT.

The film, which was adapted from two source novels, THE GLASS INFERNO and THE TOWER (both of which were bought by rival studios Fox and Warner to compete at the box-office - and then decided at the last minute to pool their resources into creating a single script) is impressive in scope and design.

For the uninitiated, one of the books deals with a disgrunted ex-employee who decides to cause an accident which starts a fire and in some ways that would have made a more intriguing storyline, but the plot of the actual film which involves cost-cutting to electrical circuits which causes the fire int the first place works as it is.

At a running time of 158 minutes some may think the film too long. In this day and age there would have possibly been test screenings and some cutting of the film, but since the success of TITANIC at the box-office longer films have become the norm. Indeed, the more recent HARRY POTTER and LORD OF THE RINGS movies are in this bracket (although the upcoming KILL BILL story that the three-hour film will be split in two may pave the way for shorter lengths!!) Mind you, THE GREAT ESCAPE is of similar length and that film moves at a cracking pace.

Steve McQueen is on screen less than some of the other stars in the film, but his performance is the best and complements others on show.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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