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The Towering Inferno (1974)

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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.

Director:

John Guillermin

Writers:

Richard Martin Stern (novel), Thomas N. Scortia (novel) | 2 more credits »
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Popularity
4,321 ( 470)
Won 3 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve McQueen ... Chief O'Hallorhan
Paul Newman ... Doug Roberts
William Holden ... Jim Duncan
Faye Dunaway ... Susan
Fred Astaire ... Harlee Claiborne
Susan Blakely ... Patty
Richard Chamberlain ... Simmons
Jennifer Jones ... Lisolette
O.J. Simpson ... Jernigan
Robert Vaughn ... Senator Parker
Robert Wagner ... Dan Bigelow
Susan Flannery ... Lorrie
Sheila Allen ... Paula Ramsay (as Sheila Mathews)
Norman Burton ... Giddings (as Normann Burton)
Jack Collins ... Mayor Ramsay
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Storyline

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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

"The Towering Inferno" Is Not Just The Story Of The World's Tallest Building In Flames, It's The Story Of People... See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 January 1975 (Singapore) See more »

Also Known As:

Flammendes Inferno See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$14,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$116,000,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$139,700,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)| 4-Track Stereo (Japan theatrical release)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35:1 (35mm) 2.2:1(70mm)
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Based on two novels: "The Tower" by Richard Martin Stern, and "The Glass Inferno" by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson. After the success of The Poseidon Adventure (1972), disaster was hot property and Warner Brothers bought the rights to film "The Tower" for $390,000. Eight weeks later Irwin Allen (of 20th Century Fox) discovered "The Glass Inferno" and bought the rights for $400,000. To avoid two similar films competing at the box office the two studios joined forces and pooled their resources, each paying half the production costs. In return, 20th Century Fox got the US box office receipts and Warners the receipts from the rest of the world. See more »

Goofs

Even in the worst design scenario, it is inconceivable that anyone would have put gallons of paint thinner and dozens of cans of spray paint so close to an electrical panel, as shown at the beginning when the fire started. See more »

Quotes

Doug Roberts: I'm not a cheeseburger.
Susan: No, you're way better, all protein, no bread, now all I need to take with you is eight glasses of water.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Columbo: Forgotten Lady (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

The Morning After
(uncredited)
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

See more »

User Reviews

 
Fire cracker
19 April 2004 | by majikstlSee all my reviews

The all-star blockbuster THE TOWERING INFERNO proves that you can make a bad film that still manages to be a great movie. Contrary to conventional wisdom, special effects and elaborate stunt work can actually be the star of a movie and provide ample compensation for poor writing, clumsy direction and really amateurish acting.

THE TOWERING INFERNO is, of course, a disaster movie, the methodical destruction of a high-rise skyscraper, along with many of its tenants. It came on the heels of THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE and quite honestly is no match for that film's delicious mix of sappy sentimentality and hammy heroics. But, while its dramatic quality is only marginally superior to hack films like AIRPORT '75 and the atrocious EARTHQUAKE, INFERNO provides a masterful blend of audience manipulation and technical craftsmanship. As Paul Newman pointed out to the press, neither he nor his perpetual professional rival Steve McQueen are the star of the film: the fire is the star. And as appropriate to any star, the fire, in all of its glorious mayhem, is lovingly filmed and given a wide berth to overact with style.

The rest of the cast should be so lucky. The remarkable, once-in-a-lifetime cast (Newman, McQueen, Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Fred Astaire, etc.) behave like troopers, even though they are primarily reduced to being little more than high priced props. Most of the scenes involving actual human interaction seem rushed and the inept line readings of the inane dialogue suggest that no one bothered with retakes, let alone rehearsals. But such moments are little more than filler, marking time between some of the most remarkable actions sequences ever filmed. The helicopter rescue of the derailed scenic elevator is heartstoppingly thrilling, even as you realize that it is absolutely physically impossible. And it is overshadowed by the explosive final showdown with the villainous fire. Hollywood has cinematically destroyed greater amounts of real estate, but seldom with such style.

As art, THE TOWERING INFERNO is a fizzle, but as a cheap carnival thrill show it's pretty hot stuff.


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