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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Towering Inferno  [1975] [DVD] [1974]
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
During the last few years there has been a spate of disaster movies in abundance. Some good, some indifferent, and a couple, downright awful.

Maybe directors and producers should learn from this movie because THIS is how disaster movies should be made.

A party gathers on one of the upper floors of the tallest building in the world to celebrate its opening unaware that a fire has broken out a few floors below. As the fire rages, elevators become jammed, sprinklers fail to work, stairways become impassable. Then it becomes a race against time to rescue the people trapped above.

There are many fine actors in this movie, some of them legends in their own right. William Holden, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Robert Vaughan, Robert Wagner, Faye Dunaway, Jennifer Jones and Fred Astaire. There is much excitement here as the survivors struggle to get out of the building as the fire gets nearer and nearer until a decision is made which hopefully will dampen the fire.

The Blu-Ray version is very good indeed with a stunning image showing great detail in the dark scenes and with a good soundtrack to complement it. Also there are numerous extras which are worth seeing which were not available on DVD upon its initial release a few years ago.

It is good to see these classic movies being re-released on Blu-Ray at a fantastic price making it affordable for those who are thinking about changing to the new format. Blu-Ray prices are coming down a lot now which is a good thing.

Recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2013
SAW THIS RECENTLY ON TV IN HD IT WAS GREAT BUT AS USUAL WHEN SHOWN, SEVERAL ''UPSETTING'' SCENES ARE CUT,EVERY TIME IT IS ON WHATEVER TIME OF THE DAY.WELL WORTH THE MONEY FOR THIS ON BLUE RAY THE FLAMES ARE VIVID AND THE EFFECTS LOOK BETTER,THE STARS [SPECIALLY FAYE DUNAWAY] LOOK GOOD AS WELL,AND NO CUTS LIKE ON TV
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Towering Inferno is still the daddy of all the 70s disaster movies, even if time has taken the edge off some of the special effects and rendered the fashions and décor more frightening than the pyrotechnics. It's also the blueprint for Die Hard, which borrows many of its key setpieces almost verbatim - the trapped party guests, the hero crawling around at the top of a seemingly endless lift shaft, the chopper exploding on the roof, the explosion that unleashes a deluge on the building - while scaling down the all-star cast and adding gunplay to the mix. As a rule in the genre, movie stars survive, TV stars die, but it's not ironclad here, although the probability of death does seem directly correlated to the amount of screen time a character gets.

It's a lavishly mounted affair and, unlike the Glass Tower itself, beautifully constructed. Stirling Silliphant's script sets up the characters (although some, like Robert Vaughn, end up sidelined completely for most of the film) and the premise so efficiently that you barely notice it's 36 minutes before anyone even notices the fire, while the survival (or otherwise) set pieces are well-staged and show some imagination - particularly the scenic elevator scene. If with recent history it may seem a tad tasteless to say it, the film is Hollywood enough to enjoy as an old-fashioned survival story/disaster movie and at least doesn't dodge the bullet of the main characters' complicity in the corner-cutting that results in the disaster - even Newman's supposedly idealistic architect takes the blame for his inaction in preventing it.

Fox's 2-disc Region 1 DVD is an impressive package: there's perhaps more quantity than quality, but there's more than enough good extras to make it worth the price of an upgrade if you already have the old version. The AMC backstory is the best behind the scenes feature despite running only 22 minutes. The new featurettes are more sort of sidebars than a comprehensive acount of the production - interesting and occassionally gossipy fun (Richard Chamberlain's enthused fascination for Irwin's outrageous weave, Irwin taking Stella Stevens out to lunch at Jack in the Box). The NATO presentation by Allen at his most shamelessly hucksterish is hilariously hokey as hell - shame they couldn't find the script for the onstage bits - and the unedited interview footage of Irwin and his incredible hair was fun if only to see his attempts to be a dignified serious figure quickly give way to the carnival sideshow barker side of him! There are also two original 10-minute featurettes covering the fire and water stunts, teaser and full trailer, stills galleries and more.

Sadly, F.X. Sweeney's commentary tends to play at times like an audio description ("Here we see the secretaries talking and Robert Wagner having the outside phone line turned off. And here we see the pretty secretary with the glasses walking through the door.."). I did dip in and out where I wanted to know more about certain scenes, but on the few occasions he was talking about the making of the film, it had no relevance to what was happening onscreen. However, it's not enough to take the shine off what is still a great fun disc.

Sadly, the PAL region 2 discs from Warners don't match up to Fox's 2-disc special edition, boasting only a decent widescreen transfer and the original trailer. Most of the extra features have been carried over to Warners' Blu-ray release, though some text-based features are only on Fox's US DVD and Blu-ray (the latter Region A-locked).
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2003
I absolutely adore this film. It was the first disaster movie I ever saw, and left a lasting impression on me. It has everything a disaster movie needs, a big building, on fire, with trapped guests, Paul Newman, and Steve McQueen, and if thats not enough it's Steve McQueen in a firemans uniform.
For its time it was one of the biggest movies ever made, and when you watch it now, you see how well made it is. The effects are still good, and make this a movie you can watch over and over. And unlike disaster movies of today it has a point, and a message, and excellent dialogue, like 'Its out of control and heading your way' which still sends a shiver through me.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND EVERYONE WATCHES THIS FILM AT LEAST ONCE.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This 1974 production has an array of some of the biggest stars of Hollywood of that time among the cast list.
The film is set in 'San Francisco' telling of the dedication-party on the 135th-floor of the tallest building in the
World, designed by 'Doug Roberts' (Paul Newman) and built by 'Jim Duncan's' (William Holden)
After a electrical-fault is found it becomes obvious to 'Doug' that short-cuts had been taken and the wiring
installed by 'Jim's' son-in-law 'Simmons' (Richard Chamberlain) was not to his specifications.
Because the systems were new to the monitors/security-staff the heat surge detected in a storage room was
brushed aside as teething problems in the system.
A fire, because of an electrical-fault had already begun.....
Big Businessmen and Celebrities are turning up for the dedication party unaware of what was developing on the
81st floor.
Finally smoke is detected by the system monitors, the fire-brigade are called, 'Doug' whilst checking the electric's
is one of the first to encounter the blaze.
The party above is already under-way 'Doug' tells 'Jim' that he should move his guests to the ground floor and out
of harms way, however 'Jim' dismisses the suggestion........it's a state-of-the-art building after all.
Fire-Chief 'Mike O'Hallorhan' (Steve McQueen) sets about trying to contain the fire, however the equipment at his
disposal is not fit-for-purpose for multi-story buildings such as this.
'Mike' tackles 'Jim' face to face insisting that the party is taken to a lower floor, at this time the fire is still 50-floors
below them...........
Good Special-Effects for it's time....
It's a story of in-fighting among family and friends, affairs yett o be disclosed, finger-pointing at those resonsible, along
with much in the way of heroics and panic-a-plenty.
An exciting and often tense spectacle, worth a viewing or indeed a re-visit.
Blu-ray and Sound upgrade pretty good.
Special Features - Commentary by Historian F.X Feeney * Vintage Promotional Material * Nato Presentation Reel
* Original 1974 Featurette '1' * Original 1974 Featurette '2' * Irwin Allen 1977 Interview.
Featurettes - Inside The Tower we Remember * Innovating the Tower - The SPFX of an Inferno * The art of Towering
* Irwin Allen - The Great Producer * Putting out the Fire * Running on Fire * Still The Worlds Tallest Building
* The Writer - Stirling Sillphant * Storyboard Comparisons
Deleted and Extended Scenes - Trailers - The Towering Inferno Teasers * The Towering Inferno Trailer
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2010
This is one of the best blu ray transfers I've ever seen especially for a 70's movie. I was amazed at the detail and vibrant colours and sound quality which I never experienced with the previous video and dvd formats. This film looks fresh and as good / if not better than most new CGI packed film releases and appears to be more realistic. A film transfer that Irwin Allen would be very proud of.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2013
WELL, IT IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DISASTER MOVIES I HAVE EVER SEEN.EXCELLENT BLURAY:PICTURE,SOUND.GREAT CAST,YOU WILL LOVE IT,EXCELLENT FILM.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I was surprised at how good the transfer to BLU RAY is on this classic Seventies disaster movie (and for that matter what a star Steve McQueen was - when he turns up its all over for the rest of the showy names).

But be aware - although the UK issue states REGION FREE - the 'US' variant on 20th Century Fox doesn't - because it's REGION A LOCKED - so it won't play on our machines unless they're chipped to be 'all regions' (which few are).

Stick with the cheap UK issue and stay out of those high-rises...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2013
It is a truly magnificent disaster movie, one of the originals second to Airport (72), however better (well in my opinion) it also has to be recognized as the first film to arranged the billing credits diagonally, with McQueen lower left and Newman upper right. Thus, each appeared to have "first" billing depending on whether the credit was read left-to-right or top-to-bottom, the first of countless times in which billing would be displayed this way in films. Faye Dunaway is stunning as always and gives good support for the two stars, their is also an appearance from Robert Wagner which is always a good thing. The film is great but perhaps let down slightly by its Hollywood ending, (man walks off into the sunset with his girl) however this could just reflect the times. Having said that, it's such a dramatic film that they may have felt it needed its uplifting end. A review that is not really needed for such a film, everyone has heard of it or seen it, great stars, great disaster film, blu-ray quality really draws you in, only felt safe when sitting beneath the smoke alarm.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Disaster movies have become overblown effects heavy blockbuster films, but they weren't always like that. The Towering Inferno is a heroic, epic movie which keeps the action moving quickly and the viewer on the edge of their seat.

The film never outstays its welcome and moves at such a pace 2 hrs 40 mins has gone in a blink of an eye. The cast list is historically one of the best ensembles ever put together for a film and because of the stars involved it is hard to determine who will survive the crisis and who will ultimately meet their maker.

The scale the film presents is still staggering even in this day and age of special effects. The tower itself is an ominous presence and is a character all of its own.

If there is an ultimate disaster movie then surely this is it or about as close as you could get. Full of drama, suspense, action and intense moments, this will have you glued to the screen the entire time.
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