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Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire ... see more see more... , Richard Chamberlain , Malcolm Atterbury , Dabney Coleman , John Crawford , Mike Lookinland , Sheila Mathews , Maureen McGovern , Ernie F. Orsatti , Gregory Sierra , Norman Burton , Don Gordon , Felton Perry , Robert Vaughn , Susan Blakely , Jennifer Jones , O.J. Simpson , Robert Wagner , Susan Flannery , Olan Soule , Jack Collins , Carlena Gower , Carol McEvoy

On the day of its grand opening, the world's tallest building becomes victim to an electrical mishap and a subsequent huge fire on its upper floors, causing all of the city's rescue teams to converge ... read more read more...upon the scene and attempt to fight against what is a raging monster.

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72% liked it

27,935 ratings


71% liked it

28 critics

DVD Release Date: March 9, 1999

Stats: 1,148 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (1,148)

  • November 24, 2012
    Starting up, you're praising the fun and beauty. By the end, you're praising that it's over.

    Full review at on 11/27
  • February 29, 2012
    The Towering Inferno is a clusterfuck of hammy dialogue, overly ambitious cinematography, and explosions aplenty. Meaning of course, that it is surely nestled in Roland Emmerich's home DVD collection, covered with semen stains.
    While I do give it credit for not bogging itself dow... read moren the plausible, it's nearly three hour running time really tests the patience of any sane viewer. The fact that the academy even threw this into the same league as The Godfather Part 2 & Chinatown is mind-blowing.
    Sure the cast is pretty stunning, but the material gives them nothing interesting to do. McQueen and Newman don't even seem into it. In fact, if you listen closely, you can hear them counting their cash in between their scenes. And pardon the pun, but Fred Astaire's performance shows that going down in a blaze of glory isn't always a good thing.
    However, all is not lost. There is one really ballsy scene in which a young Robert Wagner makes a nearly death defying escape, only to be thoroughly and violently torched. It is easily the best moment in a film that probably shouldn't have been made.
  • November 12, 2011
    Lengthy, yes, but it didn't feel at all lengthy to me. Before I knew it, I was 2 hours into the film, but remember thinking it only felt like 30 minutes...that's always a good sign of being really into a movie. "The Towering Inferno" laid the foundation for good disaster movies t... read moreo come, both in being huge budget and cast wise, and with great special effects that accompany a story that makes you glad you're not one of the people you're watching on the screen. It isn't as great as "The Poseidon Adventure," but it's still one of the classics of classics in its genre.
  • August 14, 2011
    Decent entry in the disaster genre, character development is obviously kept to a minimum. The two main reasons to watch this are the cast and the old school effects, which stand pretty damn well to this day.
  • August 8, 2011
    The Towering Inferno is one of the first of many disaster films that followed during the 1970's. The film is very thrilling and packed with suspense and action. The film has a great cast as well. However, I felt that the film at times was a tad too silly. For example, a guy and a... read more woman are trapped and he covers his head to protect himself from the engulfing flames only to get burnt to a crisp. That was actually a very funny scene and made me laugh because it was so stupid. That was one of the few examples of the silly parts in the film. I guess that in every film of this stature, you need something ridiculous. The film is thrilling and has a fairly good story despite the fact that it's fairly simple. The filmmakers prove that despite its simple story, they're able to turn out quite the exciting plot with so little. This film proves that you don't need an elaborate storyline to create top notch thrills, suspense and action. The basis of this film is the book the Glass Inferno by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson, (Robinson would later famously collaborate with gay rights activist Harvey Milk and write his speeches). The Towering Inferno, though not a perfect film, is definitely an entertaining one, and definitely delivers the thrills it promises. This is, along with The Poseidon Adventure, the best disaster film.
  • August 5, 2011
    A Classic film which I'm sure was a big Disaster film in it's day, it's the kind of film you can watch whilst doing other things as it's pretty slow moving and extremely lengthly.
  • July 24, 2011
    What can one say about The Towering Inferno that hasn't already been said? It's cheesy, it's bloated, but it amazingly all works. Most of my adoration for this stems from my adoration for both Paul Newman and Steve McQueen (in the same film, no less), but this is one of those mov... read moreies you just have to sit and suspend your disbelief. It's not perfect, nor an amazing piece of cinema, but it can be entertaining if you let it in. Just don't expect anything too marvelous and you should be fine. Just enjoy it.
  • March 5, 2011
    It took two major studios to create this incredible movie. It's big on every scale. Check out that cast list. McQueen, Newman AND Holden. Those are just your three leads. Each one representing a man in authority, but also out of his depth. The fireman, the architect, and the busi... read moreness man. Each one recognizes the danger, but understands each others point of view. The scene where McQueen removes his fireman's uniform in the elevator, to avoid a panic, is one of the great character moments that make this more than just a disaster film. Littered throughout the building are a number of characters that represent different sections of society and people with different moral values. Sometimes these characters are pigeonholed into one character trait, but here most people are three dimensional. The action scenes and slow build up are phenomenal. Each one unfolds with the kind of tension that doesn't exist today, due to loud music and quick cuts. Newman's slow disappearance throughout the movie, due to him having to have the same number of lines as McQueen, but arriving 43 minutes earlier, does sometimes make the film seem disjointed. But this is an incredible action film that sucks you in. I saw it for the first time when I was 8 or 9, and most of the images stayed with me.
  • March 3, 2011
    The ultimate in star powered chaos. Everyone is super glamourous and imperiled, a truly guilty pleasure.
  • December 31, 2010
    Literally about a giant tower that catches on fire, and the people have to get down somehow. This movie should have been a warning to architects, but no. It's a good disaster flick, it's very exciting.

Critic Reviews

Pauline Kael
January 15, 2013
Pauline Kael, New Yorker

The movie doesn't stick together in one's head; this thing is like some junky fairground show -- a chamber of horrors with skeletons that jump up. Full Review

Don Druker
February 3, 2012
Don Druker, Chicago Reader

Irwin Allen, the Busby Berkeley of natural disasters and other people's troubles, teams up with John Guillermin, a competent if undistinguished action director. Full Review

Variety Staff
September 22, 2008
Variety Staff, Variety

The Towering Inferno is one of the greatest disaster pictures made, a personal and professional triumph for producer Irwin Allen. Full Review

Geoff Andrew
June 24, 2006
Geoff Andrew, Time Out

A starry cast share out roles that are less like characters than places in a lifeboat. Full Review

Vincent Canby
May 9, 2005
Vincent Canby, New York Times

You may not come out of the theater with any important ideas about American architecture or enterprise, but you will have had a vivid, completely safe nightmare. Full Review

Roger Ebert
October 23, 2004
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

The Towering Inferno is a brawny blockbuster of a movie, by far the best of the mid-1970s wave of disaster films. Full Review

Tim Brayton
September 11, 2014
Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

Despite the best efforts of most of those involved, the film never takes off as more than just a remarkable collection of glossy violence. Full Review

February 3, 2012
TV Guide's Movie Guide

The result is everything a disaster movie should be, a combination of soap opera and the spectacle of destruction. Full Review

February 3, 2012

Ironically, there's now something almost comforting about the way the film sticks to formula, but the action is still authentically thrilling. Full Review

Emanuel Levy
March 30, 2011
Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com

Featuring an all-star cast (Paul Newman, Steve McQueen), the movie delivers the goods of a well-crafted disaster flick, but strangely, it was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. Full Review

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The Towering Inferno Trivia

  • Name the 70s disaster movie that starred Paul Newman and concerned a fire sweeping through a skyscraper full of party-goers  Answer »
  • I co-starred in the movies 'Roots', 'The Towering Inferno' and 'The Naked Gun'. Who am I?  Answer »
  • The 1st ever disaster movie to earn an Best Picture nomination!  Answer »
  • in which movie does Steve Mcqueen star as a fire fighter, and help people escape the flames of a building engulfed in flames?  Answer »

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