All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1167. An easy way of seeing how…
The Towering Inferno
The world's tallest building is on fire. You are there on the 135th floor... no way down... no way out.
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.
Step 1: Get two copies of The Towering Inferno.
Step 2: Get two large televisions and push them closer together.
Step 3: Start the first copy of The Towering Inferno somewhere between 10-15 minutes earlier than the second copy of The Towering Inferno.
Step 4: Get a horrified look on your face as it is confirmed for you that, yes, I'm totally making a 9/11 joke.
Here was a production so enormous that they had to double the duties of a normal production. Two studios put it together (20th Century and Warner Bros.), two directors were credited (one for talking scenes, one for action scenes), it's based on two novels smooshed together, and they very intricately and carefully designed it for two superstar leads (Steve McQueen and Paul Newman) to anchor the film. It's documented that McQueen only signed on if him and Newman had the exact same number of lines in the script. Even on the poster it's unsure who actually has top billing. McQueen's name comes first if you're reading left to right, but Newman's name is positioned higher if you're prone to read…
An all-star cast battle a series of spontaneous fires that break out in a 138-story skyscraper (the tallest and most spectacular building in the world) during its glitzy dedication ceremony.
Paul Newman (Hero 1) is the architect who designed the building. He quickly learns that the electrical engineer (Richard Chamberlain) cut corners installing the tower's electrical system to save money, with no objection from the greedy entrepreneur who owns the building (William Holden). Pretty soon there are explosions going off everywhere, with plate glass shattering and burning bodies careening helplessly toward cement. The fire department are called to stop the blaze, which is where we meet Steve McQueen (Hero 2), the fire chief who thinks architects like Newman should be…
In a time before Roland Emmerich was only allowed to shoot biblical plagues in his backyard and Michael Bay's career was a merely a glimpse on the horizon, disaster movies and explosions galore in general wasn't the big deal it is today. But then came 1972 and The Poseidon Adventure, the movie that put the desire in people to watch everything go wrong in the worst and biggest possible way, which paved the way for the sub-genre to this day. The Towering Inferno has it all: the big stars, epic length and scale and, most importantly, the flash. I imagine how excited audiences must've felt back in 1974 entering a movie theatre to…
Considered by many to be the greatest disaster movie of all time.
I believe it to be the second greatest disaster movie of all time. Titanic being number one.
The film is a true spectacle. Nominated for Best Picture and I can see why. For a near three hour film it's paced and structured perfectly.
We are introduced to all of the great characters right at the start-we find out a lot about them in a short amount of time and it's enough to make us care about them throughout the film-the disaster begins very early on-the film doesn't give us an hour of setup. The fire begins within the first 15 to 20 minutes.
Once that fire starts it's…
Now this is a proper blockbuster! Just look at that cast!
As The Towering Inferno approaches 40, it's safe to say that, bar some hammy acting, it has aged really well.
It is classy filmmaking that still carries the same tension and horror it did the first time I saw it. While it doesn't give me the nightmares it gave me the first time I saw it, I still find the randomness and the fierceness of the fire terrifying.
The cast is absolutely stellar and a joy to watch. I love disaster films and seeing Newman and McQueen together with Astaire running around is just icing on the cake.
I'm sure I'll stick around to see this fantastic film reach 50!
I came to vague awareness of the 70's disaster-movie trend by their airing on TV a few years later - or more specifically, the ads for those airings. I went through a phase where I was fascinated by skyscrapers, but the very idea behind this movie gave them a touch of dread. How awful would it be to be stuck above the flames, too high for rescue? (needless to say, this feeling came back with a great, queasy power in 2001.)
This movie takes place in a fictional San Francisco skyscraper so tall - about the size of NYC's new One World Trade Center - that they had to invent another fictional supertall skyscraper just to make one of the…
The modern blockbuster could learn a thing or two from this film, namely to take the material seriously and not give it some ironic spin - which sadly seems all to popular at the minute.
+ McQueen owns it, Newman is alright.
+ The whole spectacle-ness of it all still holds up decently. The wideshot of Wagner's character in the fire is great.
- Really bloated. There are whole subplots that would have been better left on the cutting room floor.
In 1974, The Godfather: Part II, The Conversation and Chinatown were all nominated for Best Picture. So was The Towering Inferno. Putting those four films in the same category should be some sort of felony.
Full disclosure: it took me two tries to get through this. Last night I watched about 45 minutes before falling asleep. I chalked it up to being tired but, after re-watching the film from the start today, I don't think that me being exhausted was the biggest factor in why I dozed off.
The Towering Inferno is just plain boring. Two-and-a-half hours of annoying characters screaming, without ever really being developed. Now, the film certainly shows its age at time, dampening the experience, but far…
This is a pretty good movie. It could stand to be a little shorter though. I didn't realize it was 2 hours and 45 minutes long when I started watching it. It really started to drag at about the 2 hour mark and lost my interest for a little while. But overall it was pretty good.
A towering inferno. Paul Newman. Steve McQueen. What's not to like?
At some point, it switches from a popcorn disaster flick to a dramatic rescue mission with a lot of high stakes. And I dug that quite a bit.
The pinnacle of the 70's disaster craze. A legitimately entertaining and well acted picture that holds up over 40 years after its initial release.
Real drama and tension don’t age. Towering Inferno is a tour de force. It’s practical effects trounce much modern CG, and it’s performances, lead by Newman and McQueen (or is that McQueen and Newman) leave you gripped.
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!
This list is the Letterboxd version of The Oxford History of World Cinema.
The book celebrates and chronicles over one…