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Lee H. Katzin
Klaus Maria Brandauer
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William Dudley is a corrupt mayor of a nameless Midwestern U.S. city who has allowed a chemical refinery to be built right in the center of town, far from any river, lake or reservoir. On one typical hot summer day, Herman Stover, a dangerously disturbed employee at the works has been denied an expected promotion and in addition, finds himself fired. He then decides to take his revenge against the works by opening the valves to the storage vats and their interconnecting pipes, flooding the area and sewers with gasoline and chemicals. It doesn't take long for this act of petty vandalism to start a fire, which starts a chain reaction that causes massive explosions at the refinery, destroying it and spreading a mushroom-cloud of flame that soon engulfs the entire metropolis! The drama focuses on a newly built hospital which, like the refinery and all civic buildings that went up during the mayor's crooked administration, is shoddily built and poorly equipped where the head doctor, Frank ... Written by
German Import DVD has a Super-8 Version (German language only), as a special feature on the disc. See more »
During several of the explosions at the refinery, an unexplained thunderclap can be heard. See more »
Mayor William Dudley:
What's eating you now? You have a new job and the city has a beautiful new hospital.
Dr. Frank Whitman:
That's right, some new hospital. It looks really good on the outside. But thanks to your political favors here and there of saving money and cut backs, I'm stuck with the patch-up job!
Mayor William Dudley:
Well nothing is perfect. Everything's compromised. Now, if you were the mayor of a big city and you have to get things done, you have to learn to give and take.
Dr. Frank Whitman:
Try talking to a surgeon about compromise during an open-heart ...
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City on Fire is one of the poorest of the 70s disaster films, but not the very worst (Meteor, Avalanche, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure are all a touch worse). It features a stellar cast that includes Ava Gardner, Henry Fonda, Barry Newman and Leslie Neilsen, but most of them seem bored by the material and just hover around in front of the fire, spouting bad dialogue and wondering aloud how much worse it will get and how many more victims it will claim.
The fire is started by a disgruntled employee at a power station. Within an hour, it has spread beyond the power station to the whole city, and the film focuses in particular on the hospital, which is fast becoming an unsurvivable inferno. The scenes of patients and doctors running, drenched in water, through the burning streets are pretty exciting, but come so late in the film that many viewers will have switched off by then.
Barry Newman is the best actor in it, given a rare leading role and making the most of it. The others, as I've mentioned. don't seem at all bothered.
The production is certainly not cheap. It looks very real amid the fire and death, and to have assembled such a good cast obviously took considerable money. Unfortunately, the film is bad though. It takes too long to get going and doesn't try any new things compared with all the disaster movies that have been made before. I'd give this one a miss I were you, unless you're a pyromaniac or hooked on the disaster genre.
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