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Archive for April 21st, 2008

If you were a noted film and television actor in the 1970’s, please raise your hand if you were not in an Irwin Allen film.

Are those crickets I hear?

The Towering Inferno is one of those great ’70’s disaster films that’s jam packed with everyone and their dog that was remotely famous. The movie’s got Paul Newman, Fred Astaire (…the hell?), O.J. Simpson (!), Steve McQueen, Richard Chamberlain and seventy thousand other character actors shoved into it.

In San Francisco, the world’s largest ever skyscraper is being unveiled, and on the night of the dedication the architect of the building (Paul Newman) discovers the electrical wiring isn’t up to specification and could cause massive fires all over the building. The people running the show fail to heed Paul Newman’s words, however, and soon fires are raging all over the building while 300 people party up on the top floor of The Glass Tower.

The Towering Inferno is an awesome slice of ’70’s cheese. It was made by the same guy who did The Poseidon Adventure and it features a constant gravitas-off (TM The Colbert Report) between Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. Between featuring styrofoam staircases blowing up, highly improbable fires, bad dialogue and hilariously awful acting (oh, Richard Chamberlain!) it’s a movie that probably wasn’t even considered “good” at the time. Steve McQueen’s cranky, hard-as-nails police chief is a hoot and seeing O.J. Simpson as a security guard rescuing cats is so unintentionally comical years later…

This is a long, long movie. At well over two hours and thirty minutes, it can seriously try your patience at times. Did the editor step out for long, long coffee breaks? I don’t know, but there’s so many subplots in the movie, you really don’t care about a lot of the characters, and really, that’s not the point of the movie; the point is the INFERNO 100 billion stories above the ground. The heavy-handed theme of “man shouldn’t build stuff so damn high” hammers you over the head so much that it only adds to the hilarious cheese factor.

Steve McQueen and Paul Newman make this movie happen.

Period, end of story.

I hope they never, ever remake it.

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