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
This movie sucks out loud and in living color. Yes, it's a disaster movie (thank goodness that genre is dead), but the real disaster is how this movie plays out.
It involves Leslie Nielsen (!) playing a corrupt mayor who allows an oil refinery to be built in downtown somewhere. Meanwhile, Ava Gardner portrays a Barbara Walters-wannabe with a HUGE drinking problem who can't decide whether to put her hands on another bottle of Absolut or James Franciscus' body (ewww). Shelly Winters plays a nurse with some conviction, while Henry Fonda mails in a performance as the fire chief.
The movie starts out with a psychotic who is denied a promotion (see SST: Death Flight) at said refinery and who also has a crush on Webster's mom, a wealthy socialite with a whore complex. The only thing they have in common is homeroom in high school. Our neighborhood psycho decides he's going to go John Hinkley in pursuit of his Jodie Foster. He eventually buys it at the end, but as Crow said on MST, "we all paid for it".
Meanwhile, to give us some honest to goodness firefighting, we are shown a couple of kids in a tree house. One of the kids pulls a Clinton (no inhale) and tosses/drops his smoke in the trash, which burns the apartment building where he lives and puts his sister in the ICU.
The fire itself is the main attraction. Everything in town is combustible, and the main drama is whether the fire will suck all of the oxygen away from the new hospital before everyone can escape. None of the big stars appear in scenes together, except for Franciscus and Gardner, and that's too frightening to consider.
Sterno says put City on Fire to the torch.
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