Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Towering Inferno (1974) - Action / Disaster

After seeing so many disaster movies in the recent times including a 3D review of “Titanic” – I will still rate this one as one of the best I ever saw. Made in the year 1974 when there was no computer graphics stuff involved – this still is a bloody edge of the seat thriller as watching it last night – I realized there were moments that I was forced to hold my breath in reality to see what goes on screen. Simply outstanding work by all and amazingly shot movie – never for a moment I felt as if I was watching a movie which was made almost 40 years ago. Two of my all time favorite stars in lead – Paul Newman as Doug the architect who designed the building and fantastic Steve Mcqueen playing the San Francisco fire department 5th battalion chief. Unbelievable shots and amazing almost true to life action sequences – I wonder how they did it as still it feels so damn good even today after we have seen so many of those movies. The problem I face in today’s movies is that they do look damn good onscreen but do not give you that real time feeling and once you see “The making” of any of them – you actually laugh on how they made it look so good. This is a must watch for all action / thriller lovers – I bet – you wouldn’t have seen a better disaster movie than this one ever.

The Glass Tower
Tower on Fire
The Movie: Right from the moment “Go” this one is truly a visual delight – from the starting shot of a chopper flying over San Francisco with credits rolling and outstanding background music playing. I almost sat thinking how many musicians must be playing their instruments to make that kind of awesome music. It almost gives you a feel that you are watching an Opera live sitting in a hall full of people. Another good thing that I totally love about these 70’s movies is their cars – they don’t make those cars anymore – those long sporty muscle cars – totally a delight in these movies – this too had some of the best ones on display, if you know what I mean. Once you are introduced to the world’s tallest tower with 138 floors – you already know that the disaster is about to strike with every moment passing – I had this doubt that anytime it may go off and then you come across the compromises done by the builders son in law to save and make some money by putting cheap electrical items than the required ones. Paul Newman as Doug Roberts the no nonsense, non compromising super successful architect is simply superb and the way he carries his character is simply outstanding – I guess the only other guy in Hollywood who could have done this role any better or equally good would be Clint Eastwood.

Steve McQueen
First time when I saw this movie – I had no idea that this was based on a building – I somehow always imagined that this would be a movie based on a volcano – I can still not forget the shock when I realized after first half hour that the bloody tower is going to be on fire in no time but by that time it was too late and to my horror I saw the disaster. It was a perfect edge of the seat thriller as what happens next is amazing stuff – never seen before thing. I haven’t seen a better movie in my movie watching career of last 20 odd years – I would say. The fire department and these brave men put their life forth to save the others is heartwarming stuff. Some scenes which will be engraved in my memory for ever – is the one where this black security guard saves a cat from the burning room. An executive having an affair with his secretary as the party goes on – no one has an idea that they are in the building – how he tries to call for the firemen and dies while his girl friend jumps from the building to save herself from the fire reminded me of those horrific 9/11 videos where we saw people jumping from burning WTC. Who would have imagined it would come this close to reality. There is this scene where Paul saves a female with two kids and as they go down the stairs – the whole stair case falls and he is hanging with the railing – terrific camerawork and the way he saves them with that hanging railing is truly amazing stuff. One scene to watch out – I was almost sitting on the edge of my sofa with a hand on my mouth – no believing what I was seeing on screen.

Paul Newman and Faye Dunaway
The way rescue work goes on and even the elite guests like the Senator and the mayor of town helps everyone is commendable. First the elevators, followed by the outside scenic elevator, when that blows off too and is picked up by a chopper by Steve McQueen is one stunt which will bring your heart into your mouth. Finally one person at a time hanging on a chair from one building to another shorter one – was one stunt I could never imagine in my wildest of the dreams that too in a movie made way before I was born. It never makes you relax while you go through almost two hours and 45 minutes of terrific action. Every scene right from the moment fire goes off to the last person saved is fantastic. How one person’s stupidity kills so many people self included. It delivers a solid punch – even the last line when Steve McQueen the fire department chief says to Paul Newman “You know we were lucky tonight, body count under 200, you know one of these days they are going to kill 10000 trapped in one of those firetraps, I am gonna keep eartin smoke and bringing out bodies – till someone asks us how to build them” to which Paul says “OK, I am asking”, again Steve says “You know where to reach me, so long architect”. Simply WOW. Missing this movie as per me will be a crime – if you haven’t seen it – go ahead – do not miss it anymore and if you have seen it already – let me know how you like it. 

1 comment:

vintage01031962 said...

i've seen it over and over again.
remembering the first time i saw it back in '74. i was then 12 years old
i still remember the trill that i encountered as if it was yesterday and i probably will feel that trill when watching it again until i die.


will vossenberg

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