The Towering Inferno (1974)

Cast: Steve McQueen, PN, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain

Directed by: John Guillermin, Irwin Allen

Summary: PN plays the architect of a high-rise hotel and office building that is set ablaze due to substandard materials in the undisputed king of the disaster movies of the 1970's. An all-star cast came together for this big-budget thriller set in San Francisco.

Trivia: Newman's son Scott plays a firefighter in the film. At star Steve McQueen's insistence, himself and other star Paul Newman had to have exactly the same number of lines of dialogue in the script! Allen originally wanted Steve McQueen to play the part of building architect Doug Roberts. McQueen however, fought for and got the role of fire chief O'Halloran. The role of Doug Roberts went to Paul Newman. Newman and McQueen were both paid the same: $1 million and 7.5% of box-office each. Newman and McQueen's names are staggered in the opening credits, closing credits, and on the posters, so that depending on which way you read it (top to bottom or left to right) both appear to get top billing. This is known as "diagonal billing". Two stars, McQueen and Faye Dunaway left strict instructions not to approached by visitors to the set. McQueen also refused to give any interviews. Paul Newman asked only that he not be 'surprised'. Although fairly common these days, Towering Inferno was the first movie to be co-produced by 2 separate studios (Warner Bros. and Fox).

The Newman Factor: It's not a stretch to say that Paul saved this movie from being just another piece of Disaster Fluff. He often calls his performance uninspired, but still, his characterization is believable (even if the plot isn't). Paul gets an 8 for this one.

Rating: 7 out of 10, I'm sure the rating would have been higher had I seen the movie in it's original release. Of course the problem was, I wasn't born yet. The movie does, however, manage to hold it's suspense, even after 20 years.

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