Movie Review: The Towering Inferno (1974) -- Classic Movies

The Towering Inferno

This film is another in the endless series of disaster movies we've been offered in 1974. The Towering Inferno comes on like hot stuff. But the people who get burned are in the audience, because this film is a big bore. Some pyromaniacs might enjoy it, and the production substitutes technical achievement for plot.
The acting is tepid. The dialogue lacks spark. Screenwriter Sterling Silliphant devises some of the most ludicrous lines I've ever heard. They play to the giggles and hisses of the audience. Paul Newman is the architect who designs the 138-story building. His engineering is subverted by Richard Chamberlain. He replaces the specified wire with an inferior gauge, and the bhilding's whole electrical system goes haywire on the first day.  Enter the intrepid firefighters, with Chief Steve McQueen.  He sports lighter hair, sky blue eyes and a furrowed brow.  How can he save all those people trapped at a party on the top floor? And how can we tell him from Paul Newman, who also has sandy colored hair and baby blue eyes? Jennifer Jones and Fred Astaire leave their rocking chairs for this outing. Faye Dunaway wears a sheer brown dress to the fire, showing everything went thataway on her towering frame. Also in tow for their names' sake are Robert Vaughn, Susan Blakely, Robert Wagner and O.J. Simpson, who plays football much better than he acts. Music by Joel Hirschhorn and Al Kasha includes a song called "We May Never Love Like This Again." The flames lick higher, the firefighters bomb the water tanks on the building's top floor, and most of the important members of the cast survive.  Hollywood took two books and two studios, four camera crews and fourteen million dollars to make "The Towering Inferno." They build 57 sets and burned down 49 of them making this movie.  They dropped a million gallons of water on a huge set covering more than 11,000 square feet of sound stage.
"The Towering Inferno" should become an entry in the Guinness World Book of Records. The movie that spent so much to bring you just a big blast of hot air...This is Ellen Kimball on Entertainment for WEEI.

Rated: 'C' on Ellen's Entertainment Report Card.

(Review originally aired Dec. 25, 1974 to January 5, 1975)

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Monday, January 4, 2010