At the opening party of a colossal—but poorly constructed—office building, a massive fire breaks out, threatening to destroy the tower and everyone in it.
Successful 70’s disaster flick isn’t anywhere near as entertaining as “The Poseidon Adventure” RELEASED IN 1974 and directed by John Guillermin, "The Towering Inferno" details events in San Francisco when the world's tallest building, The Glass Tower (138 stories), catches aflame due to an electrical short and threatens hundreds of lives during the grand dedication ceremony. Paul Newman plays the architect, Steve McQueen the fire chief, William Holden the wealthy contractor and Richard Chamberlain his arrogant cost-cutting son-in-law. This overblown disaster flick has a great all-star cast and was a huge success at the box office, but it pales in comparison to “The Poseidon Adventure,” released two years earlier. It lacks the compelling story, the great human interest and iconic score (even though John Williams composed both), plus it’s 48 minutes longer than “Poseidon,” which gives it a tedious vibe; that is, until the engrossing last half hour. On the female front there’s the striking Faye Dunaway, the architect’s babe; Susan Blakely, who looks great in tight slacks; and Susan Flannery, who’s smokin’ in a shirt & panties. Unfortunately, whereas “Poseidon” knocked it out of the ballpark with its women, “Towering” fails to capitalize on its resources. The film’s has its attractions and is still worth seeing if you favor the cast and 70’s disaster flicks. It’s just a letdown considering its streamlined predecessor and potential. THE MOVIE RUNS 2 hours, 45 minutes and was shot in San Francisco and Los Angeles. WRITERS: Stirling Silliphant wrote the script based on the books “The Tower” by Richard Martin Stern and “The Glass Inferno” by Thomas N. Scortia & Frank M. Robinson. ADDITIONAL CAST NOTABLES: Fred Astaire, Jennifer Jones, O.J. Simpson, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner and Mike Lookinland (aka Bobby Brady). GRADE: B-/C+