ONE TINY SPARK BECOMES A NIGHT OF BLAZING SUSPENSE.
Architect Doug Roberts (Paul Newman) arrives at the opening party of a new 138-story building in San Francisco, but parts of it are poorly constructed and when a fire breaks out the party becomes a death trap. Together with The Poseidon Adventure (1972), this is the most cherished disaster movie of the decade. It has an all-star cast (where Fred Astaire is the standout as an old con man), lots of fiery visual effects and a certain sense of wonder. The cold-blooded approach to killing off people in gruesome ways is just part of this genre’s DNA… but it’s harder to accept the bland writing and long running time.
1974-U.S. 165 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Irwin Allen. Directed by John Guillermin, Irwin Allen. Screenplay: Stirling Silliphant. Novels: Richard Martin Stern (”The Tower”), Thomas N. Scortia, Frank M. Robinson (”The Glass Inferno”). Cinematography: Fred J. Koenekamp, Joseph F. Biroc. Music: John Williams. Song: “We May Never Love Like This Again” (Al Kasha, Joel Hirschhorn). Editing: Harold F. Kress, Carl Kress. Cast: Steve McQueen (Michael O’Hallorhan), Paul Newman (Doug Roberts), William Holden (Jim Duncan), Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Susan Blakely… Richard Chamberlain, Jennifer Jones, O.J. Simpson, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner, Dabney Coleman.
Trivia: Jones’s last film. Olivia de Havilland was allegedly considered for a part.
Oscars: Best Cinematography, Film Editing, Original Song. BAFTA: Best Supporting Actor (Astaire), Film Music. Golden Globe: Best Supporting Actor (Astaire).