Wednesday, October 14, 2015

1974 - THE TOWERING INFERNO, the high point of the 70's disaster film cycle

Irwin Allen's formula, stick big stars in a high concept studio film project probably reached the high point in The Towering Inferno.  The film had Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway and lots of spot the star supporting talent.  Allen also had lots of stuff to set on fire as befits a fllm with the word Inferno in it.

The film looks a little dated today with it's rear projection and model and miniature work but the fire scenes with stuntmen being set on fire and running around the burning sets are still very effective.  The script by Stirling Silliphant as a big bag of cliches and the characterization is pretty weak (heroic architect in the Ayn Rand mode, superhuman fire chief etc), but he does move the story along for the most part.

The film was directed by John Guillermin who apparently wasn't very happy about Irwin Allen taking the credit for the action sequences.  However this is an Irwin Allen film all the way.  He had been making this film almost all his life, sticking a cast of actors who audiences could recognize in improbable story situations.

The Towering Inferno is Irwin Allen's high point.  After this film it's all downhill with films like The Swarm, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure and When Time Ran Out.

165 minutes.

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