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The Towering Inferno
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The Towering Inferno (1974) More at IMDbPro »

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

Overview

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6.9/10   25,713 votes »
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View company contact information for The Towering Inferno on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
20 December 1974 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
One Tiny Spark Becomes A Night Of Blazing Suspense. See more »
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Won 3 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 13 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Did someone leave a cigarette burning? See more (189 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Steve McQueen ... Chief Mike O'Hallorhan

Paul Newman ... Doug Roberts

William Holden ... Jim Duncan

Faye Dunaway ... Susan Franklin

Fred Astaire ... Harlee Claiborne

Susan Blakely ... Patty

Richard Chamberlain ... Simmons

Jennifer Jones ... Lisolette

O.J. Simpson ... Jernigan

Robert Vaughn ... Senator Parker

Robert Wagner ... Bigelow

Susan Flannery ... Lorrie

Sheila Allen ... Paula Ramsay (as Sheila Mathews)
Norman Burton ... Giddings (as Normann Burton)
Jack Collins ... Mayor Ramsay

Don Gordon ... Kappy
Felton Perry ... Scott

Gregory Sierra ... Carlos

Ernie F. Orsatti ... Mark Powers (as Ernie Orsatti)

Dabney Coleman ... Deputy Chief #1
Elizabeth Rogers ... Lady in Buoy
Ann Leicester ... Guest
Norman Grabowski ... Flaker
Ross Elliott ... Deputy Chief #2
Olan Soule ... Johnson (as Olan Soulé)

Carlena Gower ... Angela Allbright

Mike Lookinland ... Phillip Allbright
Carol McEvoy ... Mrs. Allbright
Scott Newman ... Young Fireman
Paul Comi ... Tim
George Wallace ... Chief Officer
Patrick Culliton ... Technician

William Bassett ... Leasing Agent (as William H. Bassett)
John Crawford ... Callahan

Erik L. Nelson ... Wes (as Erik Nelson)
Art Balinger ... Announcer
Norman Hicks ... Pilot (as LCDR. Norman Hicks)
Thomas Karnahan ... Co-Pilot (as LTJG. Thomas Karnahan)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Mike Johnson ... Fire Victim in Elevator (uncredited)
Tom Lawrence ... Bigelow's Assistant (uncredited)

Maureen McGovern ... Herself - Singer at Party (uncredited)

John Moio ... Security Guard (uncredited)

Jennifer Rhodes ... Janet - Secretary (uncredited)
Hank Robinson ... Dinner Guest (uncredited)
William Traylor ... Security Guard in Control Room (uncredited)

Directed by
John Guillermin 
 
Writing credits
Richard Martin Stern (novel "The Tower")

Thomas N. Scortia (novel "The Glass Inferno") and
Frank M. Robinson (novel "The Glass Inferno")

Stirling Silliphant (screenplay)

Produced by
Irwin Allen .... producer
Sidney Marshall .... associate producer
 
Original Music by
John Williams 
 
Cinematography by
Fred J. Koenekamp (director of photography) (as Fred Koenekamp)
 
Film Editing by
Carl Kress 
Harold F. Kress 
 
Casting by
Jack Baur 
 
Production Design by
William J. Creber  (as William Creber)
 
Art Direction by
Ward Preston 
 
Set Decoration by
Raphael Bretton 
 
Costume Design by
Paul Zastupnevich (costumes designed by)
 
Makeup Department
Naomi Cavin .... hair stylist
Susan Germaine .... hair stylist
Emile LaVigne .... makeup artist (as Emil La Vigne)
Jean Burt Reilly .... hair stylist
Monty Westmore .... makeup artist (as Monte Westmore)
 
Production Management
Norman A. Cook .... unit production manager
Jere Henshaw .... production supervisor: Twentieth Century-Fox
Hal Herman .... executive production manager
Richard Shepherd .... production supervisor: Warner Bros.
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Irwin Allen .... director: action sequences
Newt Arnold .... assistant director (as Newton Arnold)
Phil Ball .... second assistant director
Bob Bender .... second assistant director
Michael Grillo .... assistant director: trainee (as Michael F. Grillo)
Malcolm R. Harding .... assistant director: action sequences (as Malcolm Harding)
Wesley J. McAfee .... assistant director (as Wes McAfee)
Donald White .... second assistant director (as Don White)
 
Art Department
Tom Cranham .... production illustrator
Dan Goozee .... production illustrator
Nikita Knatz .... production illustrator
Jerry Kobold .... property master: action sequences
Robert McLaughlin .... property master
Joseph Musso .... production illustrator
Steven P. Sardanis .... assistant art director (as Steve Sardanis)
Frank Chapman .... stand-by painter (uncredited)
William Cruse .... set designer (uncredited)
Mike Garcia .... leadman (uncredited)
Ron Greenwood .... assistant property master (uncredited)
Tom Jung .... poster artist (uncredited)
Tom Jung .... poster designer (uncredited)
Edward T. McAvoy .... scenic artist (uncredited)
Benjamin Resella .... scenic artist (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
John A. Bonner .... sound supervisor (as John Bonner)
Don Hall .... supervising sound editor
Herman Lewis .... production mixer
Theodore Soderberg .... re-recording mixer
Orrick Barrett .... boom operator (uncredited)
John Speak .... sound mixer: second unit (uncredited)
Bruce Vanover .... cable person (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
A.D. Flowers .... mechanical effects
Logan Frazee .... mechanical effects
Johnny Borgese .... special effects (uncredited)
Gerald Endler .... mechanical effects (uncredited)
Jay King .... special effects technician (uncredited)
 
Visual Effects by
L.B. Abbott .... special photographic effects
Matthew Yuricich .... matte painter (uncredited)
 
Stunts
Paul Stader .... stunt coordinator
Bruce Paul Barbour .... stunts (uncredited)
Lightning Bear .... stunts (uncredited)
Cody Bearpaw .... stunts (uncredited)
Buff Brady .... stunts (uncredited)
Tony Brubaker .... stunts (uncredited)
Steven Burnett .... stunts (uncredited)
Richard E. Butler .... stunts (uncredited)
Mickey Caruso .... stunts (uncredited)
Roydon Clark .... stunts (uncredited)
Erik Cord .... stunts (uncredited)
Everett Creach .... stunts (uncredited)
Roger Creed .... stunts (uncredited)
Paula Crist .... stunts (uncredited)
Dick Crockett .... stunts (uncredited)
Howard Curtis .... stunts (uncredited)
Paula Dell .... stunts (uncredited)
Dick Dial .... stunts (uncredited)
Nick Dimitri .... stunts (uncredited)
Bennie E. Dobbins .... stunts (uncredited)
Larry Duran .... stunts (uncredited)
Bud Ekins .... stunts (uncredited)
Gary Epper .... stunts (uncredited)
Jeannie Epper .... stunts (uncredited)
Stephanie Epper .... stunts (uncredited)
Tony Epper .... stunts (uncredited)
Lila Finn .... stunts (uncredited)
James W. Gavin .... stunts (uncredited)
Mickey Gilbert .... stunts (uncredited)
Orwin C. Harvey .... stunts (uncredited)
Eddie Hice .... stunts (uncredited)
Larry Holt .... stunts (uncredited)
Loren Janes .... stunts (uncredited)
Mike Johnson .... stunt double: Robert Wagner (uncredited)
Mike Johnson .... stunts (uncredited)
Kevin N. Johnston .... stunts (uncredited)
Gene LeBell .... stunts (uncredited)
Julius LeFlore .... stunts (uncredited)
Fred Lerner .... stunts (uncredited)
Lars Lundgren .... stunts (uncredited)
Denver Mattson .... stunts (uncredited)
Troy Melton .... stunts (uncredited)
John Moio .... stunts (uncredited)
Minor Mustain .... stunt performer (uncredited)
John Nowak .... stunts (uncredited)
Doug O'Dell .... stunts (uncredited)
Frank Orsatti .... stunts (uncredited)
Regina Parton .... stunts (uncredited)
Regis Parton .... stunts (uncredited)
Victor Paul .... stunts (uncredited)
Gil Perkins .... stunts (uncredited)
Peter Peterson .... stunts (uncredited)
Bobby Porter .... stunts (uncredited)
Glenn Randall Jr. .... stunts (uncredited)
Dar Robinson .... stunts (uncredited)
Walter Robles .... stunts (uncredited)
George Robotham .... stunts (uncredited)
Thomas Rosales Jr. .... stunts (uncredited)
Wally Rose .... stunts (uncredited)
Glynn Rubin .... stunt performer (uncredited)
Russell Saunders .... stunts (uncredited)
Fred Scheiwiller .... stunts (uncredited)
Felix Silla .... stunts (uncredited)
Dean Smith .... stunts (uncredited)
Marilyn Stader .... stunts (uncredited)
Paul Stader .... stunts (uncredited)
Peter Stader .... stunts (uncredited)
Tom Steele .... stunts (uncredited)
Bob Terhune .... stunts (uncredited)
Jack Verbois .... stunts (uncredited)
Richard Washington .... stunts (uncredited)
Chuck Waters .... stunts (uncredited)
Fred Waugh .... stunts (uncredited)
George P. Wilbur .... stunts (uncredited)
James Winburn .... stunts (uncredited)
Bob Yerkes .... stunts (uncredited)
Fred Zendar .... stunts (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Joseph F. Biroc .... director of photography: action sequences (as Joseph Biroc)
Kathy Fields .... still photographer
Orville Hallberg .... camera operator: action sequences
Bill Hannah .... gaffer: action sequences
Thomas Laughridge .... camera operator
John Murray .... key grip
Lou Pazelli .... key grip: action sequences
Gene Stout .... gaffer
Orlando Suero .... still photographer
Ron Anderson .... electrician (uncredited)
Curtis Foster .... rigging gaffer: second unit (uncredited)
Jim Freeman .... cinematographer: San Francisco (uncredited)
Robert Jason .... electrician (uncredited)
Al LaVerde .... grip (uncredited)
Owen Marsh .... camera operator: "b" camera (uncredited)
Frank Redmond .... assistant camera (uncredited)
John Reynolds .... lighting technician (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Wally Harton .... costumer: men (uncredited)
Dick James .... costumer: men (uncredited)
Kathleen McCandless .... costumer: women (uncredited)
Hugh McFarland .... costumer: men (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
William DeNicholas .... assistant film editor
Jack Hooper .... negative cutter
George E. Swink .... post-production coordinator
 
Music Department
Leonard A. Engel .... supervising music editor (as Len Engel)
Ted Keep .... scoring mixer
Herbert W. Spencer .... orchestrator (as Herbert Spencer)
Harry Bluestone .... musician: violin (uncredited)
Dennis Budimir .... musician: guitar (uncredited)
Larry Bunker .... musician: percussion (uncredited)
Billy Byers .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Dominick Fera .... musician: clarinet (uncredited)
Artie Kane .... musician: keyboards (uncredited)
Ted Keep .... scoring engineer (uncredited)
Milton Kestenbaum .... musician: bass (uncredited)
Michael Lang .... musician: keyboards (uncredited)
Bernie Kaai Lewis .... musician: guitar (uncredited)
Virginia Majewski .... musician: viola (uncredited)
Richard Nash .... musician: trombone (uncredited)
John Williams .... conductor (uncredited)
Albert Woodbury .... orchestrator (uncredited)
 
Transportation Department
Chris Haynes .... driver (uncredited)
Jim Martell .... transportation coordinator (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Elizabeth Atkinson .... production assistant
Jack Cavallero .... technical adviser (as Jack Cavallero Battalion Chief S.F.F.D)
Ed Conlon .... technical adviser (as Ed Conlon Chief Eng. T.C.F.)
Albert Gail .... executive assistant to producer
Marie Kenney .... script supervisor
George Leslie .... production controller
Pete Lucarelli .... technical adviser (as Pete Lucarelli Battalion Chief L.A.F.D.)
Steven Marlo .... dialogue coach
Don Morgan .... unit publicist
Esther Stephenson .... script supervisor: action sequences
Art Volpert .... production coordinator
William Welch .... executive assistant to producer
Lewis Wolff .... real estate consultant
Tony Habeeb .... unit publicist (uncredited)
Ann Leicester .... secretary to director (uncredited)
Dick Manchaca .... craft service (uncredited)
Margaret Reeves .... secretary to producer (uncredited)
Edward Summer .... marketing consultant (uncredited)
Sharon Thurgood .... studio teacher (uncredited)
 
Thanks
Keith P. Calden .... the producers gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of (as Keith P. Calden Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department)
Raymond M. Hill .... the producers gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of (as Raymond M. Hill Chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
165 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
2.20 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints) | Mono (35 mm optical prints) | 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)
Certification:
Argentina:13 | Australia:PG | Brazil:14 | Finland:K-16 | France:U | Hungary:16 | Japan:G (2013) | Netherlands:12 | Norway:15 | Norway:16 (1975) | Portugal:M/16 | Singapore:PG | South Korea:12 (2012) | Sweden:15 | UK:A (original rating) | UK:15 (tv rating) | UK:12 (video re-rating) (additional material audio commentary) (2010) | UK:12 (online) (2009) | UK:15 (video rating) (1986) (1999) | USA:PG | West Germany:16 (w)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
In the original script the role of the fire chief (known at the time as Mario Infantino) was considerably smaller. According to director John Guillermin, the role was offered to Ernest Borgnine with Steve McQueen playing the architect. McQueen later said, "If somebody of my caliber can play the architect, I'll play the fire chief," and Paul Newman was brought onto the project as the architect.See more »
Goofs:
Factual errors: A helicopter lowers O'Hallorhan onto the damaged scenic elevator. In order to set him directly and vertically onto the elevator car (he did not swing to it), the helicopter blades would have to be no more than a foot wide to get that close to the building - or the cable would have to reach to the top of the building to accommodate the width of the helicopter blades, which would be impossible.See more »
Quotes:
[Chief O'Hallorhan has just found out the fire is heading towards the elevator shaft]
Chief O'Hallorhan:You'd better call Duncan, tell him to stop those people in the car room from using that express elevator, or somebody's going to get killed.
[Roberts picks up the phone to comply]
Chief O'Hallorhan:[addressing a colleague] OK, Kappy... ring in a third alarm. I want some rescue squads here and I also want choppers. We're going to need them if we're going to get those people. - All right, come on, firemen. I'll be on 81.
Doug Roberts:[on the phone to Duncan as injured firemen are brought into the office to get medical help] The fire's moving towards the main shaft. Use the scenic elevator - don't overload.
James Duncan:OK, Doug.
[Duncan hangs up the phone and turns to do so but is confronted by Roger Simmons]
Roger Simmons:I don't like the way you talked to me.
James Duncan:You drunk?
Roger Simmons:Not yet.
[...]
See more »
Soundtrack:
We May Never Love Like This AgainSee more »

FAQ

Lisolette Mueller remembers while fleeing the fire that she has left her cat in her apartment. What happened to it?
See more »
60 out of 73 people found the following review useful.
Did someone leave a cigarette burning?, 2 February 2004
Author: clydestuff from United States

Having struck box office gold two years earlier with The Poseidon Adventure, Irwin Allen aided by the combined financing of Fox and Warner Bros., decided to do himself one better with The Towering Inferno. No expense was spared, as evidenced by Allen securing the services of two of the top box office draws available in Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. Next, he hedged his bet with a supporting cast that ran the gamut from William Holden, Fred Astaire and Faye Dunaway to soap actress Susan Flannery and football star O.J. Simpson. Add a lot of fire, a lot of smoke, a lot of flaming and charred humans and you have the makings of a box office bonanza. It's amazing that the budget was held down to a mere $14 million dollars even in 1974 dollars. Did it work? The film grossed $116 million dollars which was quite a princely sum in those days so the answer to that as far as Allen, Fox, and Warner Bros. is concerned would be yes.

Newman plays architect Doug Roberts who has been away in the jungle somewhere but is returning home just in time for the grand opening of the tallest building ever to grace California that he just happened to have designed. Doug is also returning home to his mistress played by Faye Dunaway to persuade her to join him on his next project. The head of the company building the tower is James Duncan(William Holden) whom has left a lot of the details of the construction of the tower to his no good son-in-law, Roger Simmons(Richard Chamberlain). That turns out to be bad news for everyone unfortunate to find themselves in The Tower. After some of the wiring in the building begins to have a major meltdown, Doug investigates to find that Roger has cut so many corners it could lead to a major catastrophe. Was there any doubt?

Despite the abundance of headlining actors in Towering Inferno, the true star of the film is the disaster itself, just as it is in any of these concoctions. Allen directed the action sequences with John Guillerman handling the rest of the chores. Allen does himself proud. Although we know of course that The Tower is not truly as tall as the filmmakers would have us believe, it's not obvious enough to detract from the film. It doesn't matter though, as most of the action takes place inside the building or near the suite at the top where most of our stars end up trapped. Of course this being a disaster film, we do get the privilege of watching flaming bodies fall over a hundred stories, be it it outside or down an elevator shaft.

Allen also does well at piling on the suspense and keeps you on edge for long moments, with such things as a long climb up a flaming stare well and a long decent down a scenic elevator that will have you wringing your hands. The fire sequences are all well staged as you can almost feel the flames leaping through the screen and smell the smoke circling around the room.

The problem with most disaster films is that with the good, there is generally some bad and Inferno is no exception. Some of the dialog in this film is truly horrendous.

Example:

Duncan: How bad is it? Halloran: It's a fire. All fires are bad

James Duncan: Give me the architect that designed you, and who needs Doug Roberts? Susan: I do.

In one truly silly moment, after Dan Bigelow(Robert Wagner) and his secretary Lorrie (Susan Flannery)have just finished love making, the fire has engulfed the room next to theirs. Lorrie, being the ever observant secretary and mistress sniffs and delivers this line: "Did someone leave a cigarette burning?"

The best of the actors is easily Steve McQueen. As Chief Michael O'Hallorhan who is called to put the fire out, he seems to relish has role as a fire department head. Paul Newman on the other hand is a mixed bag. When he's playing his scenes with McQueen, Holden, Dunaway, or Chamberlain, he's OK. In other scenes, especially when the fire initially breaks out, he appears stiff and uncomfortable. Fred Astaire is on hand as the whimsical con artist Harlee Claiborne out to bilk Lisolette Mueller (Jennifer Jones)with some phony stocks. Jones is one of the best things going in this movie, turning out to be quite the heroine. Dunaway as Robert's girlfriend Susan is dry enough that we wish they could have brought Joanne Woodward in to give the relationship some real spark (no pun intended). Wagner as Dan Bigelow is a charmer but we just can't buy into his relationship with Lorrie (Susan Flannery). Susan Blakely as Patty Simmons, Holden's spoiled daughter and the wife of Roger (Richard Chamberlain)has nothing much to do except chastise her husband for causing Daddy a big headache. Chamberlain, on the other hand, seems to like playing the role of the villain and he does it well. You'll have no trouble believing just how big of a jerk Roger is. Last , is O.J. Simpson as the security guard who seems to be smarter than everybody else. The role requires little and in his big screen debut, Simpson gives it just that.

No matter. The Towering Inferno will still entertain you. At 165 minutes, you'll only be looking at your watch in the first half hour or so as you wait for that one tiny spark to ignite a night of suspense. Irwin Allen put quite a spectacle on the screen, but unfortunately never again duplicated it and with each subsequent film his product went from bad to being truly mediocre. Considering how much I really liked this film, it's a shame. Now, please put out that cigarette.

My Grade: B









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