The Towering Inferno (movie)

From Academic Kids

(Redirected from The Towering Inferno)

Template:Infobox Movie (2)

The Towering Inferno is a 1974 disaster movie adapted by Stirling Silliphant from the novels The Tower by Richard Martin Stern and The Glass Inferno by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson.

After the success of The Poseidon Adventure, Warner Brothers bought the rights to film The Tower for $390,000. Eight weeks later, Irwin Allen discovered The Glass Inferno and bought the rights for $400,000 for 20th Century Fox. In order to avoid having two similar films produced at the same time, the productions were combined, with a budget of $14 million (staggering for the time). Each studio paid half of the production costs. In return, Fox was given the United States box office receipts, and Warner Brothers got the profits from the rest of the world. The movie's 57 sets and four complete camera crews established records for a single film on the Twentieth Century Fox lot. In addition, songstress Maureen McGovern was hired to sing the love theme for both films (both of which won Academy Awards).

The movie was released a year after the two World Trade Center skyscrapers — at that time, the newest, tallest buildings in the world — were opened in New York City. Both novels upon which this movie was based were inspired by the construction of the World Trade Center towers and concerns over what would happen if a fire broke out in a large tower. Although the two disasters were not alike (in particular, the fictional Glass Tower did not collapse), following the events of September 11, 2001, the film was often referred to by the media. (Coincidentally, principal photography on The Towering Inferno was completed on September 11th, 1974.)


Primary cast


Award wins

Award nominations


In the film, a new but poorly-constructed office / residential skyscraper — at 138 stories, the world's tallest — catches fire. Fire fighters battle the flames and make many daring attempts to rescue people trapped in the building. This includes a party of 300 dignitaries who were celebrating the building's opening and become trapped in a restaurant on the top floor.

Stirling Silliphant was hired to combine both novels, taking seven main characters from each book. Features from the storyline of each book were used as well. In The Tower, a bomb in the main utility room causes a power surge, which sets a janitor's closet on fire; the escape from the top floor is by breeches buoy, and is only partially successful (more than a hundred partygoers die when fire overtakes the restaurant). In The Glass Inferno, a carelessly-discarded cigarette sets the janitor's closet on fire; the escape from the top floor is by helicopter and is more successful (everyone left in the restaurant escapes by helicopter). In The Towering Inferno, a short-circuit during routine pre-dedication testing causes a power surge which sets a janitor's closet on fire (a scenario closer to that of The Tower); escape by helicopter fails due to high winds, but escapes by breeches buoy to a neighboring 100-floor skyscraper, and an exterior "Scenic Elevator" are more successful.

Initially, the fire chief's role was relatively minor; the architect was the lead and hero. Also, Ernest Borgnine (Detective Rogo in Allen's The Poseidon Adventure) was planned to be Fire Chief Mario Infantino to Steve McQueen's architect Doug Roberts. However, when McQueen signed on, he requested the fire chief's role, providing that the roles were made equal (including an equal number of lines and equal pay) and an actor of high caliber was signed to take the architect's role. Enter Paul Newman, who became Doug Roberts as McQueen became Fire Chief Michael O'Hallorhan.

McQueen, Newman, and Holden all tried to obtain top billing; Holden was refused out of hand. However, to provide "dual" top billing and mollify McQueen, the credits were arranged diagonally, with McQueen at the lower-left and Newman at the upper-right. Thus, each actor appeared to have "top billing" depending on whether the poster was read from left-to-right or from top-to-bottom [1] (, though technically McQueen has "top billing" (This problem also occured when McQueen and Newman almost co-starred together in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid".)

The atrium of San Francisco's Hyatt Regency Hotel (at 5 Embarcadero Center) was used as the lobby for the fictional Glass Tower. This hotel actually features three glass-walled elevators, identical to the glass-walled "Scenic Elevator" of the fictional Glass Tower. This lobby area and the elevators were prominently featured in Mel Brooks' comedy High Anxiety. Matching the Hyatt Regency, The Glass Tower does have three elevator tracks; in a deleted scene it is explained that cables for only one elevator had been installed at the time of the building's dedication.

The Bank of America building at 555 California Street in San Francisco was used to double for the outside facade and plaza of the Glass Tower. Utility areas of the immense Century City complex in Los Angeles (adjacent to the Twentieth Century Fox studios) stood in for the Glass Tower's security control room and water tank area. The Glass Tower itself was a matte painting in the opening shot, and an 80-foot tall "miniature" fitted with propane gas jets for exterior fire scenes.

The script of the film never names the city in which The Glass Tower stands, though clearly the exterior shots are of San Francisco.

There are many small parts in the movie played by actors who appeared in The Poseidon Adventure, which Irwin Allen also produced.

This was Jennifer Jones's last film; her role was originally offered to Olivia de Havilland, who turned it down.

See also

External link


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools