Monday, March 24

Towering Inferno!

Things I learned:

1) Never live above the 7th floor! According to Chief O'Hallorhan (Steve McQueen) firefighters can't fight fires above that floor. Steve McQueen's word is gospel! I will now be adding 6th floor or below to my list of apt building requirements. The list also includes a basement--for use in case I need a fallout shelter of course.

2) Faye Dunaway was, is, and probably will always be super hot. Totally irrelevant in terms of disaster movie blogging, but still worth noting.

3) Paul Newman makes a damn good salad dressing, and damn good action/ish movie hero!

The Towering Inferno was a GREAT pick! Thank you weird online algorithm that magically suggests 'movies you might also enjoy!' I sat down to watch Towering, and literally refused to move until the movie ended almost three hours later. Usually I'm a pause, get a snack and keep watching kind of girl, but this movie was the perfect combination of awesome actors and really stupendously stupid action scenes. The gist: the tallest building in the world is about to hold its grand-opening, but the building is rife with faulty wiring thanks to the shady business dealings of the owner's son-in-law. Chief architect, Doug Roberts (Paul Newman), realizes that the building and the party goers are potentially in danger, but his warnings are ignored. Eventually, the faulty wiring causes sparking in a storage closet and a fire breaks out. Over the next few hours the small fire turns the entire building into an inferno (!) and the the people at the party find themselves trapped floors above the fire, and hundreds of stories above ground.

Overall, the special effects were pretty good! The fire lapping through the windows never really corresponded correctly to the fire inside, but it looked cool! There were also some really random explosions that were clearly plot devices, but again, kudos for trying pre-computer generated special effects. One thing that was really surprising was the way they killed people off; I was especially surprised when they rather graphically burned to death one of the executives and his secretary. They did break the cardinal rule (they had sex! gasp!), but their deaths sent a pretty clear message: people were actually going to die in this movie and they were going to die in large numbers and in possibly unusual situations. Examples include: the secretary being blown out the window while on fire and half naked, and an entire elevator of people being practically incinerated and then delivered back to the floor of horrified party goers.

Skipping some great explosions and quite possibly the best nail biting, crawling down a broken staircase moment in movie history (thank you Paul Newman!) the film entered true disaster movie history by coming up with several truly implausible and thus brilliant rescue scenarios:

1) They sent some of the women and children, including Roberts' better half Susan (Faye Dunaway), down an exposed glass elevator. The fire then half-blows the elevator off its cable and some of the panes blow out. One passenger falls to her death, and a few dangle dangerously close. It should be noted that the woman who falls had earlier started a very adorable dalliance with Fred Astaire (literally!). It was sad that she died, and even sadder when Fred later takes in her orphaned cat, but it was to be expected--think Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure.

2) While the super cool Steve McQueen is battling the fire, some other brilliant guy decides to try a rescue plan that involves a helicopter, a rope, and what looks like a giant birdcage. While this plan does actually manage to save a few people, the conniving son-in-law creates a panic and falls to his death along with a few others.

**there is also an attempted roof-top helicopter rescue scene, but a panicked woman causes it to crash and kill the pilots. at that point, I wanted to slap that woman and then slap the writers for playing into the women are hysterical stereotype**

3) Steve McQueen and Paul Newman save the day with this truly ridiculous and would only work in a movie plan: they are going to detonate the water towers on the top of the building and dump a million pounds of water onto the fire. All the people still trapped on the top floor have to tie themselves down and try not to drown or get blown out of the windows by the rushing water. At this point my roommate and I had a rather in-depth conversation about the likelihood of a building having that much water stored on its roof, as well as the general feasibility of the plan. It was pretty much B-list end of movie scenario, but with a fabulous cast and the panache to carry it off!

165 minutes after beginning, the movie ended with the water rushing down and the rest of the survivors magically straggling out of the building; magically because the staircases had been blown out, and I refuse to believe that the elevators worked after all of that fire, water, and wire damage. Faye and Paul find another and re-pledge their love, while Steve tells them that the death toll of 200 wasn't as bad as it could have been.