The Quintessential Disaster Film
- The Towering Inferno review by GI
After the box office success of The Poseidon Adventure (1972) disaster stories became very popular and so began a short cycle of such films and The Towering Inferno was probably the biggest and best. With an all star cast headed by Paul Newman and Steve McQueen it also boasted great special effects, action scenes and some grisly deaths. It's also skilfully written ensuring that the main protagonists are involved in various dangerous episodes throughout the story culminating in the climactic ending. Newman is architect Doug Roberts who returns to San Francisco for the opening night of a huge skyscraper called the Glass Tower, which he designed and was built by millionaire Jim Duncan (William Holden). There's to be a big party in the luxurious promenade near to the top of the building attended by politicians and local celebrities. But a small fire breaks out in a storeroom on a mid level floor and soon spreads caused by poor wiring and shoddy materials having been used by Duncan. The Fire Department led by ace fireman O'Halloran (McQueen) battles to save the hundreds trapped at the top of the building. For a long film this doesn't hang about and the action begins quickly and with a good script it manages to introduce the multitude of characters and their respective stories at the same time making for a great enthralling film. The cast of characters includes Faye Dunaway as Newman's lover, Richard Chamberlain as the cowardly son in law of Duncan, and Fred Astaire as a conman turned hero. Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner, Jennifer Jones all make appearances mostly in order to be killed in nasty ways. This is a really tremendous and exciting big budget film and as the pinnacle of the disaster films it's definitely one I highly recommend if you've never seen it.
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