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Sunday, May 20, 2012

THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974)

It’s as if the LOVE, AMERICAN STYLE creative team made their very own version of TITANIC . . . but with flames in for the iceberg and that old luxury-liner standing up as the world’s tallest skyscraper. That’s what you get with this gaseous all-star disaster pic from the mid-‘70s cycle of similar nail-biting atrocities. Producer/co-director Irwin Allen was riding high after THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE/’72 and he got two-studios to pony up for lots o’ cash & an extra-classy cast. But it’s still a ten-ton, three-hour stink-bomb. There’s a bit of fun to had checking out the tricky billing etiquette (click on the poster); listening to the Oscar®-winning song (Oy!); wondering why O.J. Simpson is left holding a cat for most of the pic’s second half; and savoring the tooth-achingly awful clothes, furnishings & colors (the green!, the blue!, the orange!). Most of the wasted cast know how to lean back and ride the situations, but poor Paul Newman keeps trying for a bit of honest emotion. Oops! Steve McQueen gets by (just), even with that haircut. But he must have known something other than the fire had been snuffed out. He stayed off the screen for four years after this big hit, and never really returned. (And if you think the residue of a post-9/11 world gives this brick pile any resonance, think again.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: As these things go, POSEIDON ADVENTURE sticks it.

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