The Towering Inferno (1974)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

USA, 1974, , .  Screenplay by , based on the novels The Glass Inferno by , , and The Tower by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .  

An enormous skyscraper made entirely of glass and featuring every possible modern convenience is built in San Francisco (prime earthquake territory, by the way) and its owner () and architect () are preparing for its grand opening gala. Holden left the building’s electrical wiring to his snotty son-in-law ( in full-tilt sniveling villain mode), so the fire that breaks out on one floor quickly turns the entire building into a giant roman candle that threatens the lives of hundreds of residents and the many partygoers on the top floor (which include the mayor, his wife and a gorgeous ).  Irwin Allen’s near three-hour disaster extravaganza is his most successful and admired of all the films of the type he treated blockbuster audiences to in the seventies, featuring two megastars in the leads ( plays the chief of the fire brigade) and suffering no expense to be spared on visuals (excellent special effects, stunt work and gorgeous production design).  It is a ridiculous indulgence, pure soap opera with a physical crisis at its core, and incredibly entertaining despite how insipid the writing is.    appears in a rare late-life role as one of the residents with one of the most memorable scenes of the film.

Academy Awards:  Best Cinematography; Best Film Editing; Best Song (“We May Never Love Like This Again”)
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Supporting Actor (Fred Astaire); Best Art Direction; Best Sound; Best Original Dramatic Score

Golden Globe Awards:  Best Supporting Actor (Fred Astaire); Most Promising Newcomer-Female (Susan Flannery)
Nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Jones); Best Screenplay; Best Original Song (“We May Never Love Like This Again”)


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