The Towering Inferno (1974) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Towering Inferno1974

The Towering Inferno (1974)



Critic Consensus: Although it is not consistently engaging enough to fully justify its towering runtime, The Towering Inferno is a blustery spectacle that executes its disaster premise with flair.

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Movie Info

On the day of its grand opening, the world's tallest building becomes victim to an electrical mishap and a subsequent huge fire on its upper floors, causing all of the city's rescue teams to converge upon the scene and attempt to fight against what is a raging monster.

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Steve McQueen
as Michael O'Hallorhan, Mike O'Hallorhan
Paul Newman
as Doug Roberts
William Holden
as James Duncan, Jim Duncan
Fred Astaire
as Harlee Claiborne, Harlee Clairbone
Faye Dunaway
as Susan Franklin
Susan Blakely
as Patty Simmons
Richard Chamberlain
as Roger Simmons
Jennifer Jones
as Lisolette Mueller
O.J. Simpson
as Security Chief Jernigan
Robert Vaughn
as Sen. Gary Parker
Robert Wagner
as Dan Bigelow
Sheila Mathews
as Paula Ramsay
Norman Burton
as Will Giddings
Jack Collins
as Mayor Robert Ramsay
Carol McEvoy
as Mrs. Albright
Mike Lookinland
as Albright Child
Carlena Gower
as Albright Child
Olan Soule
as Engineer
John Crawford
as Callahan
Dabney Coleman
as Assistant Fire Chief
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Critic Reviews for The Towering Inferno

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (10)

The movie doesn't stick together in one's head; this thing is like some junky fairground show -- a chamber of horrors with skeletons that jump up.

January 15, 2013 | Full Review…

Irwin Allen, the Busby Berkeley of natural disasters and other people's troubles, teams up with John Guillermin, a competent if undistinguished action director.

February 3, 2012 | Full Review…

The Towering Inferno is one of the greatest disaster pictures made, a personal and professional triumph for producer Irwin Allen.

September 22, 2008 | Full Review…

A starry cast share out roles that are less like characters than places in a lifeboat.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

Towering Inferno's glass-spangled erection burns with an uncontrollable lust for spectacle.

May 8, 2006 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

You may not come out of the theater with any important ideas about American architecture or enterprise, but you will have had a vivid, completely safe nightmare.

May 9, 2005 | Rating: 3.5/5

Audience Reviews for The Towering Inferno


The Towering Inferno is a clusterfuck of hammy dialogue, overly ambitious cinematography, and explosions aplenty. Meaning of course, that it is surely nestled in Roland Emmerich's home DVD collection, covered with semen stains. While I do give it credit for not bogging itself down the plausible, it's nearly three hour running time really tests the patience of any sane viewer. The fact that the academy even threw this into the same league as The Godfather Part 2 & Chinatown is mind-blowing. Sure the cast is pretty stunning, but the material gives them nothing interesting to do. McQueen and Newman don't even seem into it. In fact, if you listen closely, you can hear them counting their cash in between their scenes. And pardon the pun, but Fred Astaire's performance shows that going down in a blaze of glory isn't always a good thing. However, all is not lost. There is one really ballsy scene in which a young Robert Wagner makes a nearly death defying escape, only to be thoroughly and violently torched. It is easily the best moment in a film that probably shouldn't have been made.

Reid Volk
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer


Lengthy, yes, but it didn't feel at all lengthy to me. Before I knew it, I was 2 hours into the film, but remember thinking it only felt like 30 minutes...that's always a good sign of being really into a movie. "The Towering Inferno" laid the foundation for good disaster movies to come, both in being huge budget and cast wise, and with great special effects that accompany a story that makes you glad you're not one of the people you're watching on the screen. It isn't as great as "The Poseidon Adventure," but it's still one of the classics of classics in its genre.

Jason Owens
Jason Owens

Super Reviewer


Decent entry in the disaster genre, character development is obviously kept to a minimum. The two main reasons to watch this are the cast and the old school effects, which stand pretty damn well to this day.

Tsubaki Sanjuro
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

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