The Towering Inferno

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The Towering Inferno is a 1974 American action disaster film produced by Irwin Allen featuring an all-star cast led by Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. The film, a co-production between Twentieth Century-Fox and Warner Bros. (this was the first film to be a joint venture from two major Hollywood studios), was adapted by Stirling Silliphant from the novels The Tower by Richard Martin Stern and The Glass Inferno by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson, and was directed by John Guillermin, with Allen himself directing the action sequences. Jennifer Jones made her final film appearance in this film.



Architect Doug Roberts (Paul Newman) returns for the dedication of the Glass Tower in San Francisco which he designed for building owner James Duncan (William Holden). At 138 stories (1,800 ft), it is the world's tallest building. During a routine systems check before the ceremonies, an electrical short throughout the upper floors starts a small fire in a storage room on the 81st floor which goes undetected due to fire alarm system and sprinkler malfunctions. Roberts confronts the building's electrical engineer, Duncan's son-in-law Roger Simmons (Richard Chamberlain), about the electrical shorts, accusing him of cutting corners. Simmons insists the building is up to standards but Roberts is skeptical and demands to see the specifications.

At the dedication ceremony the public relations chief, Dan Bigelow (Robert Wagner), turns on the Tower's exterior lights to impress the 294 guests arriving for a party in the Promenade Room on the 135th floor. The lighting overloads the system and Roberts angrily orders it shut off. At this point, the storage room fire on the 81st floor has fully engulfed the room. The building's security guards see the smoke and summon the San Francisco Fire Department by both the malfunctioned fire alarm system and by telephone. Roberts, the security guards, and engineer Will Giddings (Normann Burton) go to investigate. However, as Giddings dives to push a security guard away from the door to the burning room, it explodes open and severely burns him, shocking Roberts. Roberts tells Duncan of the fire; however, Duncan refuses Roberts' pleas to evacuate and insists that the party continue, believing a fire on the 81st floor cannot possibly affect the Promenade Room on the 135th floor.

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