The Towering Inferno - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Towering Inferno Reviews

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axadntpron
Super Reviewer
½ February 29, 2012
The Towering Inferno is a clusterfuck of hammy dialogue, overly ambitious cinematography, and explosions aplenty. Meaning of course, that it is surely nestled in Roland Emmerich's home DVD collection, covered with semen stains.
While I do give it credit for not bogging itself down the plausible, it's nearly three hour running time really tests the patience of any sane viewer. The fact that the academy even threw this into the same league as The Godfather Part 2 & Chinatown is mind-blowing.
Sure the cast is pretty stunning, but the material gives them nothing interesting to do. McQueen and Newman don't even seem into it. In fact, if you listen closely, you can hear them counting their cash in between their scenes. And pardon the pun, but Fred Astaire's performance shows that going down in a blaze of glory isn't always a good thing.
However, all is not lost. There is one really ballsy scene in which a young Robert Wagner makes a nearly death defying escape, only to be thoroughly and violently torched. It is easily the best moment in a film that probably shouldn't have been made.
Super Reviewer
½ November 12, 2011
Lengthy, yes, but it didn't feel at all lengthy to me. Before I knew it, I was 2 hours into the film, but remember thinking it only felt like 30 minutes...that's always a good sign of being really into a movie. "The Towering Inferno" laid the foundation for good disaster movies to come, both in being huge budget and cast wise, and with great special effects that accompany a story that makes you glad you're not one of the people you're watching on the screen. It isn't as great as "The Poseidon Adventure," but it's still one of the classics of classics in its genre.
DragonEyeMorrison
Super Reviewer
½ August 14, 2011
Decent entry in the disaster genre, character development is obviously kept to a minimum. The two main reasons to watch this are the cast and the old school effects, which stand pretty damn well to this day.
TheDudeLebowski65
Super Reviewer
½ August 8, 2011
The Towering Inferno is one of the first of many disaster films that followed during the 1970's. The film is very thrilling and packed with suspense and action. The film has a great cast as well. However, I felt that the film at times was a tad too silly. For example, a guy and a woman are trapped and he covers his head to protect himself from the engulfing flames only to get burnt to a crisp. That was actually a very funny scene and made me laugh because it was so stupid. That was one of the few examples of the silly parts in the film. I guess that in every film of this stature, you need something ridiculous. The film is thrilling and has a fairly good story despite the fact that it's fairly simple. The filmmakers prove that despite its simple story, they're able to turn out quite the exciting plot with so little. This film proves that you don't need an elaborate storyline to create top notch thrills, suspense and action. The basis of this film is the book the Glass Inferno by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson, (Robinson would later famously collaborate with gay rights activist Harvey Milk and write his speeches). The Towering Inferno, though not a perfect film, is definitely an entertaining one, and definitely delivers the thrills it promises. This is, along with The Poseidon Adventure, the best disaster film.
Super Reviewer
November 28, 2006
A Classic film which I'm sure was a big Disaster film in it's day, it's the kind of film you can watch whilst doing other things as it's pretty slow moving and extremely lengthly.
FilmFanatik
Super Reviewer
March 17, 2008
What can one say about The Towering Inferno that hasn't already been said? It's cheesy, it's bloated, but it amazingly all works. Most of my adoration for this stems from my adoration for both Paul Newman and Steve McQueen (in the same film, no less), but this is one of those movies you just have to sit and suspend your disbelief. It's not perfect, nor an amazing piece of cinema, but it can be entertaining if you let it in. Just don't expect anything too marvelous and you should be fine. Just enjoy it.
Super Reviewer
½ August 22, 2006
It took two major studios to create this incredible movie. It's big on every scale. Check out that cast list. McQueen, Newman AND Holden. Those are just your three leads. Each one representing a man in authority, but also out of his depth. The fireman, the architect, and the business man. Each one recognizes the danger, but understands each others point of view. The scene where McQueen removes his fireman's uniform in the elevator, to avoid a panic, is one of the great character moments that make this more than just a disaster film. Littered throughout the building are a number of characters that represent different sections of society and people with different moral values. Sometimes these characters are pigeonholed into one character trait, but here most people are three dimensional. The action scenes and slow build up are phenomenal. Each one unfolds with the kind of tension that doesn't exist today, due to loud music and quick cuts. Newman's slow disappearance throughout the movie, due to him having to have the same number of lines as McQueen, but arriving 43 minutes earlier, does sometimes make the film seem disjointed. But this is an incredible action film that sucks you in. I saw it for the first time when I was 8 or 9, and most of the images stayed with me.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
June 20, 2007
The ultimate in star powered chaos. Everyone is super glamourous and imperiled, a truly guilty pleasure.
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2010
Literally about a giant tower that catches on fire, and the people have to get down somehow. This movie should have been a warning to architects, but no. It's a good disaster flick, it's very exciting.
Super Reviewer
June 16, 2010
Far and away, this is the greatest disaster movie ever made. It has everything that you could possibly want without all the cheese and sappiness. All the terror is real, as are the relationships and the effects. Two knockout performances from Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, gods among men sharing the screen together(it's amazing the screen doesn't explode with both of them there at the same time). There's also one of the greatest supporting casts of all time that all make the story more enticing and suspenseful, it's far more engaging when familiar faces are being sweated out in an inferno. The effects are flawless, you can't pick out one flaw amongst the three hour epic that it is. CGI isn't necessary to create a nightmare for anyone who's ever worked in a skyscraper.
flixsterman
Super Reviewer
½ January 6, 2009
1974 installment in a long string of Irwin Allen "disaster films". A great cast that unfortunately gets lost in a sea of stunts and special effects.
Super Reviewer
April 15, 2007
Steve McQueen and Paul Newman...
A burning skyscraper...
high levels of manliness ensue.

Hands down the greatest disaster film of all time.
Super Reviewer
August 15, 2007
Interesting disaster flick. The 70's fashions seem a bit dated. There are scenes of terrible death and heroics. Not so fun watching after September 11th, 2001. The SCTV parody of this movie was good.
garyX
Super Reviewer
½ March 31, 2007
One of the better 70s disaster movies with the trademark ensemble cast of heavyweights and has-beens. Like The Poseidon Adventure, it's entertainingly daft if taken with a liberal dose of salt, and it's worth it just to watch Newman and McQueen trying to out-alpha male each other.
Super Reviewer
June 19, 2007
A pretty good disaster film from the 70's.
rayman0071
Super Reviewer
½ May 4, 2007
When I saw this film at the age of nine years old in theatres around Christmas of 1974,it was one of the most breathtaking disaster films I ever saw and to this day it holds the title as one of the greatest ever. Watching Paul Newman and Steve McQueen is the roles of their careers is worth it.
Super Reviewer
February 3, 2007
So many good actors giving so many masterful performances in such an average movie. Irwin Allen has a knack for overwhelming actors and story with spectacle.
deano
Super Reviewer
October 23, 2006
One of the best 1970's disaster movie of the world's tallest building goes up in flames.
Super Reviewer
May 12, 2014
If it's the 70s, it must be the era of the disaster movie. Here we have yes..a towering inferno and a bunch of stars desperately trying to escape it. These epics are entertaining but superficial in their treatment of natural disasters.
Super Reviewer
June 15, 2010
Irwin Allen's magnificent production of "The Towering Inferno" is one of the greatest disaster films ever made, an awesome multimillion-dollar all-star epic spectacle, it concerns the Glass Tower an architectural marvel which is the world's tallest building, a 138 story golden monolith of glass and steel that completely dominates the San Francisco skyline, it proudly awaits its glamorous gala dedicatory ceremonies, leaders of politics, society and the entertainment world are all in hand to witness the unveiling of this towering colossus, but of the eve of skyscraper's debut, Doug Roberts the architect who designed the building, played by Paul Newman in a solid and charismatic performance is not too enthusiastic because of a defective burnt wire found in the basement system control panel by the building's maintenance crew, Roberts discovers that there is a larger problem, cut-rate wiring runs throughout the building and it could start electrical fires breaking-out everywhere, Roberts contacts the builder James Duncan played superbly by William Holden and pleads for him to postpone the building's dedication, Duncan refuses and a fire does breakout in a storage room on the 81st floor, which quickly spreads and hits the gas lines causing a massive explosion and firet traps 300 guests in the building's penthouse ballroom on the 135th floor, Steve McQueen brilliantly plays the heroic Fire Chief Michael O'Hallorhan who along with Roberts must fine a way of getting those people down before the out of control fire reaches them. Terrific direction by John Guillermin with Irwin Allen marvelously directing the film's spectacular action sequences which includes the incredible torrential climatic ending where enormous top-floor water tanks are blown up releasing a million gallions of water in a last-ditch effort to put out the raging fires. Exquisite supporting performances from Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, Susan Blakely, Jennifer Jones, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner, Jack Collins, Norman Burton and Felton Perry. The extraordinary Oscar nominated pre-CGI special effects by L.B. Abbott and Matthew Yuricich are very impressive, the pyrotechnics are gripping and the optical effects, matte paintings and miniatures all add realism and help create a threatening atmosphere of calamity, the film has sensational stunts thanks to the superb 25 stuntmen and stuntwomen under the supervision of coordinator Paul Stader they performed more than 200 individual stunts for this film, gorgeous Oscar winning cinematography by Fred J. Koenekamf and a wonderfully dynamic score by John Williams. A suspenseful, well-crafted cinematic gem of the early 70s that earned 8 Academy Awards nominations including Best Picture. Highly Recommended.
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