THE TOWERING INFERNO
Color, 165 min.
Released: December 14, 1974 (20th Century Fox)
Cast: Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Jennifer Jones (as Lioslette Mueller), Richard Chamerlain, Susan Blakely, O. J. Simpson, Robert Vaugh, Robert Wagner, Susan Flannery
Director: John Guillermin
Producer: Irwin Allen
Complete Credits at IMDB
Taglines: "One Tiny Spark Becomes A Night Of Blazing Suspense""
"The world's tallest building is on fire. You are there on the 135th floor... no way down... no way out"
During the dedication party of a new 138 story glass building, a fire breaks out leaving party guests stranded on the top floor. It is a race against time as the fire department help the trapped guests escape from the burning building. The success of 1972's The Poseidon Adventure gave studios a fresh idea for a new type of movie - the disaster epic. These films would feature big casts with big names, dazzling special effects and big budgets. The Towering Inferno was budgeted at 14 million (a huge budget for the time). The disaster epics also provided good character roles for big name film stars from the past. Jennifer's role was originally offered to Olivia De Havilland who turned it down. Her character (Lisolette Mueller) was a widow who is woed by a con artist (played by Fred Astaire).
Norton Simon is due some credit for bringing Jennifer Jones back to the screen in a quality production. He encouraged her to return to films but not in B-type films like her previous two (Angel, Angel, Down We Go and The Idol). It was thought that Simon's Hollywood connections helped Jennifer secure the role.
Regardless of how she got the role, she gave a great performance that required grueling stunts which she performed herself. Lisolette is one of the few characters in the film that audiences were saddened to see die in the disaster. Jennifer was nominated for a Golden Globe Supporting Actress award but did not receive an Academy Award nomination (although Fred Astaire did).
The Towering Inferno received Academy Awards nominations for Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Astaire), Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound, Editing, Song ("We May Never Love This Way Again"), and Score. It won three of the awards, for Cinematography, Editing and Song.
Norton Simon loaned several paintings for Lisolette's apartment scene.
Jennifer's role was first offered to Olivia de Havilland, who turned it down.
Considering the magnitude of the project, it is incredible that filming began on May 8 and the film was in theaters on Dec. 14. This was accomplished by a rigorous shooting schedule, on a total of 8 sound stages on the 20th Century-Fox lot and 4 complete camera crews, shooting simultaneously.
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