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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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4,278 ( 1,149)
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:

One Tiny Spark Becomes A Night Of Blazing Suspense. 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

Only feature film to co-star father and son Paul Newman and Scott Newman. See more »

Goofs

Dan and Lorrie and having an illicit affair. They are both eager to keep this from being discovered as evidenced by some of their dialog during their tryst. When the couple discover the fire and Dan makes his fake phone call, Lorrie has no reason to doubt him. Yet though her clothes are draped on a chair in the same room, she makes no attempt to get dressed. Instead, she remains wearing only Dan's dress shirt and a pair of control top pantyhose. She apparently means to greet the supposed rescuing fireman dressed this way-- and be escorted down to the lobby barefoot in pantyhose with her boss at her side. Given the situation and circumstances, Lorrie's first action after Dan reassured her that "help was on the way" should have been to put her clothes back on. See more »

Quotes

Dan Bigelow: What happened, somebody hang the wallpaper upside down?
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

The TV network version has about 20 or so minutes of footage added for prime time viewing. The some of the extra scenes include:
  • Fred Astair first arriving at the building art gallery and talking with Jennifer Jones.
  • Additional dialogue between Paul Newman and Faye Dunaway in bed in his office.
  • The jeweler first arriving at the building with the gold scissors and Robert Wagner arguing with his office staff of planing the evening dedication party.
  • A scene with William Holden talking to Faye Dunaway in the building lobby about her moving away from San Francisco.
  • Additional dialogue of the Mayor addressing the crowd at the pre-ceremony gathering.
  • A scene with Faye Dunaway and Susan Blanckley talking at at table about their significant others during the party.
  • A scene where a security chief phones about another fire that's now on the reception area of the 65th floor of the building, and more scenes of firetrucks driving towards the building.
  • The harrowing climb down the firestairs railing of the destroyed stairwell is longer and has some additional dialogue between Paul Newman and the others.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Out of This World: Two Many Evies (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

We May Never Love Like This Again
Maureen McGovern sings
Words and Music by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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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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