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The Towering Inferno is a 1974 American action?drama disaster film produced by Irwin Allen featuring an all-star cast led by Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. The picture was directed by John Guillermin. A co-production between 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros., it was the first film to be a joint venture by two major Hollywood studios. It was adapted by Stirling Silliphant from a pair of novels, The Tower by Richard Martin Stern and The Glass Inferno by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson.

The film was a critical success, earning a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and was the highest-grossing film released in 1974. The film was nominated for eight Oscars in all, winning three. In addition to McQueen and Newman, the cast includes William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Susan Blakely, Richard Chamberlain, O. J. Simpson, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner, Susan Flannery, Gregory Sierra, Dabney Coleman and, in her final film, Jennifer Jones.


Architect Doug Roberts returns to San Francisco for the dedication of the Glass Tower, which he designed for James Duncan. At 138 stories, it is the world's tallest building. An electrical short starts an undetected fire on the 81st floor. Roberts suspects the electrical engineer, Roger Simmons, also Duncan's son-in-law, of cutting corners and confronts him, but Simmons stonewalls Doug.

During the dedication ceremony, public relations chief Dan Bigelow turns on the tower's exterior lights. The lighting overloads the electrical system and Roberts orders it shut off. Smoke is seen on the 81st floor and the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) is summoned. Roberts and engineer Will Giddings go to the 81st floor, but Giddings is hospitalized due to burn injuries.

Roberts reports the fire to Duncan, who refuses to order an evacuation. Ill-equipped firefighters arrive to tackle the blaze, which spreads out of control. SFFD Chief Michael O'Halloran forces Duncan to evacuate the guests in the Promenade Room on the 135th floor, directing them to express elevators. A guest, Lisolette Mueller, who is being wooed by con man Harlee Claiborne, rushes to the 87th floor to check on a young family. Simmons admits to Duncan that he cut corners, but at a time when Duncan overbudgeted construction and ordered subcontractors back under budget.

Duncan, aided by Senator Parker and Mayor Ramsey, directs the elevator evacuation from the Promenade Room until the fire renders the express elevators unsafe. Not heeding Duncan's directions, a group is killed when their elevator stops on the fire's floor. Bigelow is having an affair with his secretary Lorrie, and both get killed when the fire traps them on the 65th floor. Parker recommends using the stairs to escape, but the fire exit a couple of floors below the Promenande Room is blocked by a wheelbarrow full of hardened cement.

Security Chief Harry Jernigan and Roberts rescue Mueller and the family from 87. Jernigan gets the mother out safely but Roberts, Mueller, and the two children are halted by a collapsed stairwell. They climb down the stairs but fire forces them up to the Promenade Room. Electrical power is lost and O'Halloran's men are forced to rappel down an elevator shaft.

The Navy deploys a rescue helicopter, but a combination of strong winds and stampeding guests cause the helicopter to crash, ruining the helipad. Naval rescue teams attach a breeches buoy to the adjacent building and rescue a number of guests, including Patty Simmons, Duncan's daughter. Roberts rigs a gravity brake on the external scenic elevator allowing twelve people, including Mueller, the children, and a fireman one trip down, with the remaining eight being ladies chosen by lottery, including Roberts' girlfriend Susan. An explosion leaves the elevator hanging by a single cable, where Mueller falls to her death. A Navy helicopter saves the rest.

Simmons tells Duncan that he will use the breeches buoy next, but Duncan punches him, saying the men will draw numbers but he and his son-in-law will be the last to leave. The fire reaches the Promenade Room and Simmons forces his way onto the buoy, leading to a struggle. Parker is pushed to his death by Simmons. An explosion severs the lines to the breeches buoy, causing Simmons and others to fall to their deaths.

O'Halloran and Roberts set explosives on the water tanks atop the building to extinguish the fire. The remaining guests tie themselves down. O'Halloran, Roberts, Duncan, Claiborne and most of the party-goers survive as water rushes through the building, extinguishing the flames.

Claiborne learns that Mueller did not survive and is heartbroken. Jernigan gives him Mueller's pet cat. Duncan consoles Patty over her husband's death (but does not reveal the reason behind his demise). Duncan promises that such a tragic debacle will never happen again. Roberts says to Susan that he does not know what will become of the building, and perhaps it should be left in its fire-damaged state. Informing Roberts that the casualty toll numbered less than 200, O'Halloran says they were lucky. Roberts agrees to consult with fire officials in the future when such buildings are designed. O'Halloran drives away, exhausted.

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Towering Inferno (1974 film) and the London tower fire of June 14, 2017

Posted by Conspiracy Cafe on June 16, 2017 at 3:31 PM 628 Views