The Towering Inferno

Published September 22, 2019

The Towering Inferno

Film info

  • Title The Towering Inferno
  • Director John Guillermin
  • Year 1974
  • Run time 2hrs 44m
  • Genres Thriller, Action
  • Tagline No way down, no way out

Doug Roberts, architect, returns from a long vacation to find work nearly completed on his skyscraper. He goes to the party that night concerned he's found that his wiring specifications have not been followed and that the building continues to develop short circuits. When the fire begins, Michael O'Hallorhan is the chief on duty as a series of daring rescues punctuate the terror as a building too tall to have a fire successfully fought from the ground burns.

Live blog

Time Comment
1:26 What a cast!
6:00 “You’re a city boy with a low threshold of boredom.”
6:12 The office is so 70s and orange!
13:46 Trust the computers or trust your eyes?
17:55 They haven’t finished putting the safety equipment in. That bodes well.
26:21 Do they have parties for opening skyscrapers these days?
32:00 There’s the garden level, another bit Skyscraper stole.
38:46 Haven’t they seen the movie Backdraft? Never open the door!
43:57 Yaaas, McQueen has arrived.
47:00 I like that he just calls him “architect.”
48:32 “It’s a fire, mister, all fires are bad.”
49:46 Fred’s dancing!
55:46 There must be stairs somewhere, right? Why don’t they use those?
59:08 What a weirdo? What does he want, a massive sign over her head saying “I just had sex?”
1:06:26 Well that’s horrific.
1:11:16 Finally! Someone thought of the stairs.
1:29:50 You know it’s bad when even the firemen get stuck.
1:32:38 We do not like people messing about in lift shafts.
1:36:38 The firefighters also blow stuff up? That seems the opposite of their purpose!
1:44:19 Fred’s a scam artist!
1:45:44 “If you had to cut costs, why didn’t you cut floors instead of corners?”
1:49:54 High-rise roulette.
2:02:43 Even Steve’s like what the bloody hell else can go wrong, people.
2:04:48 They can’t, she can’t, but no. Not in that flimsy chair thing.
2:16:46 If they release all that water, won’t the people drown?
2:20:54 Priorities! Protect the wine!
2:36:30 It’s working! It’s working!
2:38:28 Forgot about OJ. Has he just been standing there, holding a cat this whole time?


This was a really good film, I was surprised! The tension was there from the very beginning, and although it took a little while for the fires to actually start, it helped to build up a picture of how casually most people were taking the situation… right until the situation caught up with them.

It was a long film, but I didn’t mind that so much. My only real complaint was that the characters felt under-developed. It was a huge cast with ridiculously famous names, but actually the only ones I cared about were Fred Astaire and Jennifer Jones. The rest never really had time or space to generate interest, despite an almost three hour film.

There were also some random bits that didn’t quite make sense - OJ Simpson picking up a cat and disappearing… the two random people who locked themselves away and just ended up dying anyway. I dunno, there were oddities.

But Newman and McQueen were great, good antagonistic but ‘in-it-together’ chemistry, which, from what I’ve read, reflects real life as well. And the movie stuck with me for a while after watching, which is always a good sign.

Rating: 4 / 5

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