The Towering Inferno Reviews
However, I truly truly enjoyed this movie! Newman and McQueen are just magical!!!!
I watched a recent addition to the genre this year, San Andreas set in the city of San Francisco. The Towering Inferno is also set in the city. If I was a resident I would become very worried.
Featuring a (then) cast of A-list stars from the (then) present and past (Fred Astaire). It was made in an era (1974) before CGI was invented and it got me thinking about the possibility of a remake. I then remembered the tragic events of September 11th 2001 and realised that was highly unlikely.
The leads Paul Newman (the architect) and Steve McQueen (the firefighter) or should that be the other way around? Both stars wanted top billing, put in great performances. Indeed most of the cast do.
However what happened to security guard O.J. Simpson? He features quite prominently in the opening act then rescues a cat and disappears until near the end.
The film has a two and a half hour running time but the pacing is good. It keeps you gripped to it.
I watched the end credits as I always do and noticed the music score (what little there was to be honest) was composed by John Williams who would go on to greatness a year later with the first summer blockbuster Jaws.
A cost cutting, devious character (think George Osborne in the UK) played by Richard Chamberlain just wants you to punch him you to punch him through the screen.
I found amusing how facing death the lobby bar continues serving alcoholic beverages.
All in all a decent film.
It's an epic production, on a scale that would simply be unmanageable by today's standards, full of cheesy characters and dialogue and all of the other staples such as the spectacular death scenes and the warnings that go unheeded.
The film has assembled a great cast of favorites from the era, and it's great fun watching Steve McQueen and Paul Newman clash on the screen especially since they reportedly clashed so much behind the scenes as well. It's also refreshing to see a film from this time period because it relies so much on actual special effects and not computer generated ones, and there are a number of stunts here that are quite spectacular.
Another great thing about these pictures is that there were never any steadfast rules on what stars lived or died, and that really adds to the shock value. Granted the whole thing is an exercise in excess, but in films such as this, that's really part of the fun. From Allen and her crew, you wouldn't expect anything less. "The Towering Inferno" is an exemplary example of the genre, an overlong, melodramatic-filled thrill-ride that likes of which we could never see today. It's not the best of the lot but you have to admire it for its technical achievements and sheer entertainment value.
I remember it like it was yesterday. There I was, a young kid, sitting in my parents house on a cold bleak Saturday morning in Michigan. We had HBO back then so I turned on the cable box hoping to find something fun to watch (possible cartoons). As I was channel surfing, I came across a classic 70's disaster flick that remains to this day, one of my all time favorite films. The Towering Inferno is a tense, exciting, and flat out entertaining piece of cinema. It has "popcorn flick" written all over it. At 165 minutes, its got a long running time, but it doesn't feel that way. "Inferno" moves by at an unbelievably fast clip and its got a huge cast of stars who look as if they all had a lot of fun making it. Its also got special effects that even today would hold up against any lifeless Michael Bay production.
"Inferno" came out during a wave of other disaster flicks like Earthquake (1974), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), and Airport (1970). Safe to say it's the best one of the bunch. It's truly one of the reasons I love watching movies as well as reviewing them.
It tells the story of the world's tallest building (The Glass Tower) in San Francisco having an electrical short that starts a huge fire (81st floor). The fire quickly spreads threatening to kill everybody on the top floor (they're having a dedication ceremony/party for the opening of the tower). With the help of a determined architect (Doug Roberts played by Paul Newman) and a fire department led by Chief Michael O'Hallorhan (Steve McQueen ), enormous efforts are made to try and stop the out of control blaze using any means necessary.
The concept for The Towering Inferno was based on two novels, The Tower by Richard Martin Stern and The Glass Inferno by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson. And although the film is minimal on plot, it makes up with for it with relentless action and suspense. They didn't have PG-13 movies back then and this film really pushed the envelope for PG fare. Yes, there are death by fire scenes in the film that really shook me upon first viewing. But as I got older and viewed "Inferno" many times over, I realized that this was an important element in keeping the viewer clinging to the screen, helplessly wanted to know if the rest of the cast makes it out alive.
Lets talk about that cast. We have William Holden as James Duncan (the builder), we got Fred Astaire as Harlee Claiborne (Astaire was nominated for best supporting actor by the Academy), we got Richard Chamberlain as Roger Simmons (the electrical engineer), and lets not forget former NFL running back O.J. Simpson as Harry Jernigan (Chief Security Officer). With his huge 70's afro and confident demeanor, he pioneered the whole "athletes transitioning to acting" thing. He gives a solid performance, unlike the forgettable ones he gave in the Naked Gun movies.
All in all, The Towering Inferno is a bonified masterpiece. I normally don't say that a lot of films because I have been critical in the past with movies of this genre. Edited splendidly by Harold Kress and Carl Kress and directed with gusto by John Guillermin and Irwin Allen, "Inferno" has the real feel of a true Best Picture Nominee (it was in fact nominated at the 1975 academy awards). It also kind of serves secretly as a public annoucement about the dangers of fire and fire prevention.
"Inferno" is dangerous, epic, exhausting stuff and when it does move closer and closer to its conclusion, we get the pleasure of seeing two renegades (Newman and McQueen) come together to stop an out of control fire destroying everything in its path. I've gotta admit seeing these two Hollywood legends on screen gives me goosebumps. Oh heck, the whole film gives me goosebumps. If you love movies and want to escape, "Inferno" is pretty serviceable. Just get a big bucket of popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the ride.