The Towering Inferno - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Towering Inferno Reviews

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January 13, 2017
Fantastic. Another great ensemble. I change my mind, it holds up slightly better than Poseidon, but thanks mostly to the chemistry between Newman and McQueen. A little long, but it doesn't feel like it.
October 13, 2016
This movie reminded me of titanic!
However, I truly truly enjoyed this movie! Newman and McQueen are just magical!!!!
August 19, 2016
The BEST disaster movie of all time. The BEST all star cast of all time. It's a a GREAT movie !!
½ March 27, 2016
The disaster genre made a comeback in the 1970s and this film typified it. Irwin Allen's production is based on a 135 storey skyscraper 'The Glass Tower' burning to hell and back.
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.
½ February 8, 2016
 Its an obvious, big budget blockbuster . Most characters are so stupid it hurts. Every possible bad decision is taken. Its also very sexist and uber yuppie. Maybe its just following the book, i dont know? As a movie it manages to look big and awkward at the same time and the very impresive cast is shot in a way that none of them really shine (even Faye Dunaway's supreme Starpower is used for something like 5 minutes, like they didnt realise who they were working with) yet the tension and bigness of it makes it kindof impressive, especially for the last hour wich stays tight. It manages to actually be scary a few times (and hilarious when it goes full-on daytime soap opera)
½ December 5, 2015
Quite a classic for a disaster film but it pokes its own holes, maybe just for popcorn lovers.
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2015
Really cool. This film is legendary for basically starting the entire disaster movie genre. It's very entertaining from beginning to end, and watching Newman and McQueen together in one movie is pretty damn awesome.
½ August 11, 2015
I very much liked the towering inferno with a very good cast ,paul newman,william holden and faye dunaway I remember a classic scene where Robert Wagner and his secretary played by Susan Flannery are trapped in his office and wagner tries running through blaze to get help but does not make it
August 8, 2015
An all star cast, can't distract from a rather flimsy plot. But that doesn't matter when you have one of the pinnacles of the 70's disaster movie cycle.
½ July 11, 2015
There is nothing like seeing a bunch of great actors in a terrifying situation that has great effects, a compelling story, intresting array of characters, more explosions than any movie to have come out and a scary villain in the form of fire.
June 16, 2015
Epic disaster flick from the 70's. Definitely has dated over the past 41 years since its release, but it is extremely entertaining with a than stellar cast, lead by Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. Fire sequences are amazing, even by today's 'CGI' standards. It was a definite watch as a child and I'm happy to say it is still a joy to watch after all these years!!
½ May 31, 2015
Being too young to really know of this movie's impact at the time it was released, I can only watch it with it as campy and silly movie that is far too dumb to be fun.
April 21, 2015
Good movie. It was a little long and moved a bit slow but was worth the view and pretty easy to follow. That is it is a bit dated being from the 70s did not bother me in the least and it did not detract from the film. Great plot (and many sub-plots) as well as solid acting and effects.
April 13, 2015
Paul Newman vs Steve McQueen
April 11, 2015
Add a few more floors to the Titanic and throw it at a volcano instead of an iceberg and you'd have The Towering Inferno. Unlike in most disaster movies where there's no disaster then suddenly the disaster is everywhere, here it starts out small and gradually gets more intense. As a result there's less shock value, but it makes the movie more realistic. It was said that the Titanic was the ship that would never sink, but it did sink because of a small hole that grew into a sinking ship. Even as the ship was sinking the passengers and crew found it hard to accept what's happening. The same mantra is repeated here. The owners of the building keep saying the fire won't spread. There was little reaction to the fire until it was too late.
April 5, 2015
One of the best disaster movies of all time. Excellent cast and script.
January 9, 2015
Still the ultimate disaster movie after all these years and probably the most moving. The gritty reality and all star cast make this a guilty pulse pounding pleasure.
November 3, 2014
I don't care to research the budget for this movie but between the cast and all the stuff that gets lit on fire, it had to be pretty high, right? Worth 1 watch, maybe, just to see what laid the foundation for the legions of lame disaster movies to come.
October 15, 2014
Perhaps the greatest mainstay of 1970's cinema that I miss the most are the epic disaster pictures, most of which were created by mayhem maestro Irwin Allen. One of his most popular features was "The Towering Inferno," and although it wasn't my personal favorite, it did carry on the sub-genre in grand and glorious tradition.

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.
September 29, 2014
Review by Jesse Burleson of VIEWS ON FILM


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.
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