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.