The Towering Inferno – a senseless, stupid return to the time of 1970 disaster movies

The pinnacle of awful 1970s spectacle films where the one and only attraction being the large scale cast where 95% of the budget went to the talent. It’s the awful disaster films where producers thought it was entertaining to kill off a bunch of celebrities en masse. Even if that bit of horrific black comedy appeals to you, the comedy is done in a non-specific way that doesn’t accentuate the massacre. The tone is so flat that it earnestly feels like they’re trying to tell a serious story and not one half-baked in mediocre ideas born out of the A-list cast.

The Towering Inferno is infamously one of the worst films to ever win two Oscars (editing and cinematography) and was wildly popular with all sorts of audiences. It floated around in the zeitgeist of society and made a weird impact on the American blockbuster. The disaster film became a mainstay, especially one crafted in the image of this film.

Paul Newman, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, William Holden, Jennifer Jones, Susan Blakely, and OJ fucking Simpson. And that’s only a piece of the extremely large ensemble. None of the performances are memorable outside of their mere presence on screen. There’s a level of laziness in how these actors are presented, and while a number of the comedy bits work with them involved, the success is mostly predicated on knowing the actors. But, I can’t blame these actors for taking the part – seems like a fiery set to be on.

John Guillermin went on to have a weird career, where he’s obsessed with the spectacle picture. Even then, The Towering Inferno will serve as his magnum opus of ridiculous filmmaking.


★★/ Out of 5★s (42)

(30-35-45-40–36-42-60-55-50-80-75-50-55-19: 48)

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