City on Fire (1979)

R  |   |  Action, Drama  |  31 August 1979 (USA)
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Reviews: 24 user | 11 critic

A pyromaniac, ex-employee of a city oil refinery creates an explosion at the facility which starts a chain-reaction of fires that engulf the entire city.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Frank Whitman
Diana Brockhurst-Lautrec
Nurse Andrea Harper
Mayor William Dudley
Maggie Grayson
Fire Chief Albert Risley
Jonathan Welsh ...
Herman Stover
Hilary Farr ...
Mrs. Adams (as Hilary Labow)
Fire Captain Harrison Risley
Mavor Moore ...
John O'Brien
Dr. Matwick
Terry Haig ...
Terry James
Cec Linder ...
Councilman Paley
Ken James ...
Andrew - Deputy Fire Chief


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 Alfred Jingle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What Happened to Them Could Happen to You ... In Any City Anywhere!


Action | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

31 August 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

City on Fire  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$5,300,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Some elements of the disaster depicted here reflect the Texas City Disaster: On 16 April 1947, a mid-morning fire on the SS Grandcamp, docked in Texas City, caused the ship to blow up and ignite several oil refineries around the harbor. The fire detonated approximately 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate and the ensuing fires and explosions killed at least 581 people in and around Texas City. These events also triggered the first class action lawsuit against the United States government, on behalf of 8,485 dead and injured victims. See more »


Footage of British/London fire trucks. 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 ...
See more »


Featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000: City on Fire (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

That's Barry, not Gary Numan.
11 February 2005 | by (Vulcan) – See all my reviews

MST3K did a nice job with this in their first season. It is one of the better films Joel and the Bots have roasted - not saying much since most of their little treats occupy the worst 300 films of all time here on IMDb.

The acting is variable, and you occasionally feel as if you are watching two different films which were spliced together in order to reach an hour and a half. Leslie Nielson, as ridiculous as it may seem, delivers the best dramatic performance of the lot.

Basically, a obsessive individual gets the wrong promotion at an oil refinery, mouths off at his boss and then, after getting fired, leaks oil all over the entire city and sets it ablaze. Like most of the disaster films of its time, we are introduced to 3-4 different characters who will play some role as either heroes or commentators on the events. The film climaxes as the massive fire approaches a brand-new hospital where Mr. Numan plays one of the heads of surgery.

If you get a chance to see this in its MST3K version, by all means do so. It is one of the earliest truly funny episodes of the legendary show. If you can't see this with Joel and the bots, avoid it at all costs. It burns....

13 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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