Disaster

The Towering Inferno(1974) vs. The Poseidon Adventure(1972)

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Two of the greatest disaster films ever made. Both featuring all star casts, two terrifying situations to be trapped in(death by drowning or death by burning, suffocation or jumping),a mix of heroic and selfish characters, epic scores and both films were produced by disaster film legend, Irwin Allen. Which of these films is your favourite?

I love both and recommend them to fans of the disaster genre, but my favourite is The Towering Inferno. For me everything about this film is on such a big scale, the sets, the cast(surely the most star studded cast ever assembled?)and the idea of being trapped in a burning skyscraper is terrifying to me, it is also a much more realistic scenario than a ship flipping over. Trapped in a sinking ship and facing the strong possibility of drowning is terrifying too; but at least in that situation, there is always the chance that not all decks get consumed by water, you could find a way out, swim to the surface or be rescued by passing ships/coastguard.

If you’re on the upper floors of a burning building and are trapped, there is really no way out; you’re left facing three horrendous ways to die, burning, suffocating or jumping to escape the first two, which obviously leads to certain death from such height. The scene of the secretary(Susan Flannery) trapped in the apartment facing those very things has always stayed with me. That scene shows just how horrific such a situation is.

We follow the film from two perspectives, firstly the guests and residents trapped in the building, and secondly the firemen who try and save them. This film really highlights the bravery of the men and women of the fire service, who risk their lives to  get others out of the flames. I like that there is a dedication to the fire service during the opening credits.

I also think this film could serve as a warning/wake up call to builders and architects regarding the safety of such tall buildings;  as McQueen’s fire chief says “you know there’s no sure way for us to fight a fire in anything over the seventh floor, but you guys just keep building ’em higher and higher”. Sadly that speech could still be delivered today, as buildings keep getting higher and higher.

I’ve always found this film fascinating due to McQueen and Newman apparently having the same number of lines in the film. I’ve only ever heard of such a thing done in this film, has it been done elsewhere? I think that is a very good way of ensuring that big stars receive equal screen time.

There are some stunning special effects and stunt work in this, that still hold up extremely well by todays standards. The scenic lift explosion(causing the tragic death of a much beloved character)is extremely impressive and always has me watching through my fingers because I know what’s coming. I don’t like heights so that whole sequence makes me squirm.

Featuring a great cast, and this will have you playing the usual guessing game in such films as to who will survive and who will perish.I would love to see this one on the big screen as it was intended to be viewed.

The 70’s disaster films really show you how it’s done, all star casts, epic running time(which gives you more opportunity to connect with characters, thus meaning you are impacted if they die)and nightmare scenarios to be trapped in. I consider The Towering Inferno to be the best and most entertaining of the lot.

I’d love to hear your views on these flicks, and get your opinions on the disaster genre in general.

 

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5 thoughts on “The Towering Inferno(1974) vs. The Poseidon Adventure(1972)”

  1. Epic post! I love the The Towering Inferno, for me it’s the pinnacle of the 70’s disaster craze. A legitimately entertaining and well acted picture that still holds up over 40 years after its release.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Even though I was still relatively young when both of these movies came out, I had already read the books that both movies are based on. (In fact, “The Towering Inferno” was based on two competing books released at the same time, “The Inferno” and “The Glass Tower”.) So I kind of knew what to expect going in to the movie house. I enjoyed both movies, but I would have to say “The Poseidon Adventure” made more of an impression, partially because I was slightly younger with that one, but mostly because we saw it in a fancy theater where the screen actually curved on both sides and went back several rows. We were in the second row, so we basically had a 180-degree field of vision, making the experience very immersive, and I remember being freaked out during some of the intense scenes. But again, both of these movies are great examples of the genre.

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  3. I never saw The Towering Inferno, but it sounds like one to look for. I did see The Poseidon Adventure, which was terrifying. When I watch these disaster-in-water movies, I always try to hold my breath for as long as the characters do when they’re swimming underwater – and panicking besides – and I always come up short.

    We watched “Earthquake” last summer when it was on Netflix, which I think is another Irwin Allen film? I love his style: big stars and big disaster. His films are still entertaining, years later.

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    1. Hi there. I’m right there with you regarding holding breath underwater that long; I feel certain there is no way I would be able to do it. I find the scenes where go underwater very suspenseful and it always makes me uncomfortable even though I know the outcome. I highly recommend The Towering Inferno. Yes, Earthquake was one of Allen’s too. I have never been a fan of that one, some of the quake sequences are good and scary, but the characters and story is pretty dismal apart from that.

      Liked by 1 person

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