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The Towering Inferno Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! 

By Patrick Mondout

The world's largest skyscraper has just opened and many of the movers and shakers who are responsible for it are partying (like it's 1949) on the top floor (the 130th floor!). Unfortunately, cost-cutting measures have compromised the safety of the building and a single spark from faulty electrical wiring is all that was needed to engulf it in flames. The ensuing chaos includes extramarital-lovers being burned to death, a firemen falling through an elevator shaft a hundred (or so) floors this his death, and heart-wrenching, Titanic-like decisions about who gets to go down the one working elevator to safety.

Actually, the story of how this movie came about is at least as interesting as the movie: In the early Super70s, a pair of movie studios purchased separate scripts which both featured skyscraper engulfed in flames (Warner Brothers owned Richard Martin Stern's "The Tower," and 20th Century Fox owned Thomas Scotia/Frank Robinson's "The Glass Inferno,"). Rather than compete with one another, they decided to pool their resources and filming began in early 1973. This was quickly becoming the Decade of the Disaster Film and 'Inferno cost a breathtaking (by 1974 standards) $14 million to make but returned $150 million in worldwide release. It took two directors to handle one of the biggest all-star casts to grace the silver screen. Over 200 stunts were performed for the movie, including the famous last scene where millions of gallons of water were poured over the party-goers.

The all-star cast was wasted on this box-office burner which received far more Academy Award nominations than it deserved. Paul Newman played the architect of the ill-fated building, Steve McQueen was a firefighter, and Fred Astaire was one of the folks trapped on the top floor (this was a roll for which he was Oscar-nominated). A security guard in the burning building, O.J. Simpson landed a role where he actually gets to save lives! Before you get your hopes up, he only manages to rescue a cat (hey Juice, how's that search for the "real" killer coming along?).


Both Steve McQueen and Paul Newman performed their own stunt work for this movie.

Academy Awards

The Towering Inferno received Academy Awards for Cinematography (Fred J. Koenekamp & Joseph Biroc), Film Editing (Harold F. Kress & Carl Kress), and Music: Best Song (Al Kasha - Music & Lyrics, Joel Hirschhorn - Music & Lyrics). The Towering Inferno also received Academy Awards nominations for Best Picture (Irwin Allen - Producer), Supporting Actor (Fred Astaire), Art Direction/Set Decoration (William Creber - Art Direction, Ward Preston - Art Direction, Raphael Bretton - Set Decoration), Music Scoring Awards (Best Original Dramatic Score; John Williams), and Sound (Theodore Soderberg & Herman Lewis).

Share Your Memories!

Is The Towering Inferno one of your favorite movies? What do you remember about it? Share your stories (or your reviews) with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"This is a movie with heart !! Who could ever forget the lovely Susan Flannery as the sympathetic Lorrie , a beautiful , brave , and loving young women who affirms her love in the face of death ? If you didn't feel for her you have no heart !"


"It's hard to watch this movie post 9/11 and not think about all those people trapped in the towers. I first watched this movie in awe as a child. Then for fun as cheesy Super70s kitsch. Now it's just sad."


"I was only 5 years old when this movie came out and I liked it then and I liked it now. Many relatives including myself had been firefighters at one point in our lives. By watching this movie today, I can assure you that Duncan would had rather jumped off the burning building himself considering ALL the lawsuits he would be up against, including possible criminal negligence charges and the other people who'd be responsible such as Doug Roberts (better hide back into the wilderness), Roger Simmmons (He already met his fate in the film) and maybe even the security department and yes, the fire departments may get nailed as well. Oh, yeah, the inspectors, the builders, the city, etc. This would be a legal mess, huh???...Now, if they actually did a movie of such, I'd like to see how it turns out. Titled: THE TOWERING INFERNO AFTERMATH [Editor's note: "Mr. Grisham, pick up the white courtesy phone please."]"




Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from! (Click here!)Buy this soundtrack from! (Click here!)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Irwin Allen

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

Released: December 14, 1974

Availability: DVD VHS CD

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