Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Towering Inferno (1974)

Director: John Guillermin

Writers: Stirling Silliphant, Richard Martin Stern, Thomas N. Scortia, Frank M. Robinson

Composer:  John Williams

Starring: Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Susan Blakely, Richard Chamberlain, Jennifer Jones, O.J. Simpson, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner, Susan Flannery, Sheila Allen, Dabney Coleman

More info: IMDb

Tagline: One Tiny Spark Becomes A Night Of Blazing Suspense.

Plot:  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.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

I never saw this before now and I have to say...I liked it.  The pacing is great (it's fifteen minutes shy of three hours and it flies by) and you can't get better than having Paul Newman and Steve McQueen headlining your show.  Newman is THE MAN in this picture.  He's a lot of fun.  The special effects are at times amazing.  The scenes with Robert Wagner and the woman he's with (forgive me, I can't remember who she was) trying to escape are fantastic.  Naturally, with this being a disaster movie, lots of people die and they die in gloriously grisly ways like falling from the building, hitting something and spin to the ground.  Great stuff.  John Williams delivers the music and you can hear some of the orchestration that would find its way into pictures like THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980).  That was fun.  The only thing I think I might've changed was having too many characters and brief storylines.  The Fred Astaire character story, for example, seemed unnecessary.  Still, it's a fun movie and I was surprised at how much I dug it.  The 20th Century Fox special edition DVD (2 discs) has a great looking anamorphic widescreen print with lots of extras.  You get three commentaries (film historian F.X. Feeney, special effects director for X3 Mike Vezina and stunt coordinator on THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW Branko Racki), AMC Backstory (22 minutes), lots of vintage promotional material (NATO presentation reel, two featurettes from '74, a '77 Irwin Allen interview, the film's teaser and trailer and the trailer for THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE), extended and deleted scenes which were part of the longer TV broadcast (45 minutes), American Cinematographer articles (three) and storyboard comparisons. 

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