Newest Review: ... rather than say a recent disaster movie such as 2012. The film has been released on DVD quite a lot over the years in various collecti... more
The Heat Is On!
The Towering Inferno (DVD)
Member Name: T4imbo3107
The Towering Inferno (DVD)
Advantages: Great cast
Disadvantages: Poor transfer and bare bones disc.
The cast are unique for a film of this size, Steve McQueen taking the lead from Paul Newman with some ingenious negotiations that involved Newman's name being slightly higher in the credits but in second place to McQueen. It is these two who play tag with the story and even though the pair has exactly the same number of lines, it is McQueen who steals the film from Newman and takes the hero role away. The cast are a great mix; Robert Wagner, Richard Chamberlain, Faye Dunaway, William Holden and Robert Vaughan make their presence known on screen as does OJ Simpson in one of his early roles; however he does come over slightly wooden in parts of the film. That's not to say that the film is all about the dialogue as it isn't by any means at all, there are a number of sequences that involve Helicopters and Fire Brigade that are of a high calibre with regards to telling the story, this isn't a film where a good guy overcomes the bad guy at all, the villain here is the fire that has been started due to someone thinking cost cutting is a good idea and the bottom line is simply trying to survive the odds rather and the ultimate conclusion with how the obstacles are tackled are done very well for the time this film was made.
As fire is the main theme running through the film, the scenes in which you see vast floors alight give the story an added dimension, all scenes that involve the flames and the heat look menacing and are frightening to say the least, I remember watching this film as a child and remember vividly that I was frightened out of my life when a lift opened and a person on fire walked out of it. At the time this was horrific for me to see, but as a grown up I can see the facial mask and understand the stunt and how it was done. But this is a film where certain characters will be sacrificed accordingly for the parts of the story where the characters pay a price for incompetence and seeing sets that 30 minutes before were immaculate and fresh go up in flames with Firemen attempting to rescue children seriously grabs your attention. The guilt is also dealt with as well, in an exchange of dialogue between Paul Newman and William Holden towards the end of the film, you see the two men discussing what has happened and how they played a part in the evening proceeding which in reality is the epilogue to the story itself, this gives some balance to the story and puts the blame on someone which I thought was refreshing as usually a disaster movie is based on a natural disaster like an earthquake or tornado, where here its different and comes down to human error.
A building that is 137 floors in height gives the story a lot of scope to be set and so the film is not only based on the inside in various staircases and rooms but also on the outside where the external viewing lifts take people from ground level direct to the Promenade where the opening party is being held. The viewing lift gives the producers an opportunity to utilise an exciting sequence where 12 passengers can get to ground level, of course it doesn't go to plan and so McQueen as the Fire Chief is sent in to rescue the passengers with the help of a US Navy helicopter and some cutting gear, this is an intense scene on its own as the action takes place on the 110th floor.
This is an Irwin Allen production and he has spared no expense to get this film created as the film is big in every way and the length of the film represents the epic sized proportions of the story, running at a total of 165 minutes in length the film holds the audience on the edge of their seats in every single way possible. The film was released well before the invention of computer created graphics and everything such as the explosions and the stunts have been done manually... so to speak. Although the template for The Towering Inferno was to be used again and again in most disaster movies from here on, so this gives a far more realistic picture of the incident rather than say a recent disaster movie such as 2012.
The film has been released on DVD quite a lot over the years in various collections and runs and is simply inferior to the DVD version in every single way, get a Blu-ray copy as it is a real treat to watch given the better quality of the transfer giving a superior picture and the plethora of extras as well that, the quality of the transfer for a film that is nearly 40 years old is good but could have been better and isn't really consistent throughout with colours dropping in quality and dirt visible on screen, the black sky against the golden colour of the tower makes the shot look all the more impressive but the DVD copy isn't as sharp as it should be even on a player that can upscale the picture which having watched this on two machines certainly highlighted the issues even further, also the DVD copy is simply a bare bones disc without any extras at all which I consider to be quite offensive in some ways given the scope of the production. Just dont buy the DVD release.
Overall I absolutely love this film and the rollercoaster ride of suspense it gives the viewer, however seeing it on DVD made me return it to HMV and buy the Blu-ray version instead to enjoy it again from a whole new perspective that really got me hooked. It isn't a film where you automatically assume that all the main cast will survive, they don't and the efforts that are done to steer the audience in one direction while the story unexpectedly veers off in another is simply great to watch as you are taken on a journey from start to finish that takes place over a single night. There is a fair amount of grief in the last few minutes and McQueen gets the last word, there is a message to be savoured that a building that is 137 floors high cannot be managed successfully should a fire break out and with 9/11 this was proved true to some extent as this is the closest that Hollywood has come to a real life disaster before its happened. With buildings like The Shard in London being built it does make you think about where this is leading.
Respect has been paid to the services that are shown throughout the film and a dedication is shown at the beginning.
Summary: Classic film... but not well presented.