The Towering Inferno


(out of 5)

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.

, ,

USA, 1974

Directed by

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 ,

Cast Tags:  , , , ,, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Academy Awards
Best Cinematography (Fred Koenekamp, Joseph Biroc)
Best Film Editing (Harold F. Kress, Carl Kress)
Best Music (Song) (“We May Never Love Like This Again”, music and lyrics by Al Kasha, Joel Hirschhorn)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Fred Astaire as “Harlee Claiborne”)
Best Art Direction (art direction: William Creber, Ward Preston; set decoration: Raphael Bretton)
Best Music (Original Dramatic Score) (John Williams)
Best Picture (Irwin Allen, producer)
Best Sound (Theodore Soderbergh, Herman Lewis)

Golden Globe Awards
Best Supporting Actor (Fred Astaire)
Most Promising Newcomer-Female (Susan Flannery)

Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Jones)
Best Screenplay
Best Original Song (“We May Never Love Like This Again”)

BAFTA Awards
Best Supporting Actor (Fred Astaire)
Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music

Best Art Direction
Best Cinematography

National Board of Review Award
Outstanding Special Effects


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