[[quoteright:287:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/towering_inferno_9178.jpg]]

->'''James Duncan''': Oh, come on. Now just how bad is it?
->'''[[CaptainObvious Chief O'Hallorhan]]''': It's a fire, mister, and all fires are bad.

A 1974 DisasterMovie, co-directed and produced by Creator/IrwinAllen, and starring SteveMcQueen and PaulNewman. As well as having two directors, it was also the first Hollywood movie to come from two major studios - it was a co-production between TwentiethCenturyFox and WarnerBros The movie was based on two books, ''The Tower'' and ''The Glass Inferno''. Both books were bought by each studio, then someone realized that two movies about a skyscraper on fire would basically cannibalize both films, (as happened in the 1990s when the aforementioned 20th Century Fox released ''{{Volcano}}'' not long after {{Universal}} released ''Film/DantesPeak'', two films about sudden volcano eruptions) so to prevent this from happening it would be better for both studios to combine resources to make one BIG picture. (On a side note, ''The Glass Inferno'' was co-written by Thomas N. Scortia, who tends to write a lot of books about fires.)

In the film, a red-carpet party is being held in SanFrancisco to celebrate the opening of the world's largest skyscraper, the 138-story Glass Tower. One of the few not celebrating is [[TheHero the architect]], Doug Roberts (Paul Newman), who's still upset that developer/builder Jim Duncan (William Holden) made significant changes to the design during construction in the name of saving money. He's particularly annoyed at electrical contractor Roger Simmons (Richard Chamberlain) who has shaved so much from the budget that the building's wiring is already showing signs of overload. It doesn't help that he's also [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveConnections Duncan's son-in-law]].

Sure enough, because of the faulty wiring resulting from said cut corners, a short circuit in a janitor's closet grows into a massive fire. As the guests become trapped in the building, it falls on [[DaChief Fire Chief O'Hallorhan]] ([=McQueen=]) and the San Francisco Fire Department to help save the day.

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!!''The Towering Inferno'' features examples of:
* AbsoluteCleavage: Faye Dunaway's evening gown along with some other female guests at the party.
* AdultFear: There were ''children'' in the building, and if it hadn't been for Roberts...
* AllWomenAreLustful: Lampshaded by Faye Dunaway's character.
* AnyoneCanDie: Major characters can easily plummet to their deaths or get burned to a crisp.
* ConvectionSchmonvection: In a real high-rise fire, smoke and heat will travel upwards in a "chimney effect" aided by the building envelope. The fires in this movie do not generate the dense smoke that most real building fires do. The movie subverts this sometimes when it comes to smoke (but not always heat) when the plot necessitates characters recognizing the fire. Of course, virtually 90% of the action in the movie would be invisible if fire were treated fully realistically.
** Frightingly averted by what happens to Bigelow. He just runs into a burning room and the sheer heat causes him to burst into flames.
* DeathBySex: Bigelow and his secretary are killed almost immediately after a sexual rendezvous in his apartment....[[DeathByIrony just before the fire crew arrive on their level.]]
** To top it off, he actually disconnected his phone to not be disturbed during their activities. Had he not done so, he'd have been told about the fire right away.
* {{Dedication}}: To the fire fighters of the world.
* DevelopingDoomedCharacters
* DiagonalBilling: The TropeCodifier, created to assuage the rivalry between PaulNewman and SteveMcQueen starring in the same movie.
* DirtyCoward: Roger Simmons, who takes the lift before his turn and pushes a man clinging to it to his death.
* DownerEnding: Despite O'Hallorhan's report that the loss of life in the disaster could've been a lot worse, we are still left with the haunting images of the nearly 200 people who didn't survive the blaze and with a grim lesson in what happens when architectural safety in a high-rise building is overruled.
* DrivesLikeCrazy: O'Hallorhan's entrance, where he almost pops a wheelie up the steps to the plaza, ''and'' skids over a 1.5 inch supply hose.
* EiffelTowerEffect: During the opening credits a helicopter flies over the Golden Gate Bridge.
* ElevatorFailure: Though there are no falling elevators, there are plenty of gruesome scenes involving them, including a ''mass of burning people in a cab''.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: The opening has a number of them in addition the usual [[TemptingFate refusal to accept that there is any risk]], from the visual (the tower shaped cabinet full of smoke) to character's conversations ("You'll never leave", "After the party, come on downstairs and watch me burn my black tie!", "We won't be so messy tomorrow. We're gonna try charcoals").
* HateSink: Roger Simmons, and to a lesser extent, Jim Duncan.
* HellishCopter
* HopeSpot: Sending the scenic elevator down via gravity brake.
** It looks like they may be able to evacuate people by helicopter, [[NiceJobBreakingItHero until two women panic and run into its landing spot]], making it crash and stopping any further attempts with the roof on fire.
* InfantImmortality: the only two children we see, Phillip and Angela, get down safely.
* JerkAss: Roger Simmons. Right to the end his motivation is to save his own ass.
** LaserGuidedKarma
* KarmaHoudini: Duncan, though compared to his son-in-law, he's more of TheAtoner when he realizes how bad he's screwed up. Unlike his son-in-law, he owns up to his complicity in the fire and helps in the rescue.
* KarmicDeath: Simmons is the one most directly responsible for the fire's outbreak after having cut so many corners to save money on the building's electrical wiring. He further complicates the evacuation efforts in trying to get to the breeches buoy before everyone else, and commandeers it when the fire reaches their floor, pushing several innocent men to their deaths as they try to stop him. This ultimately gets him killed as the buoy is severed and sent plummeting with him still clinging to it.
* KnightInSourArmor: Chief O'Halloran is clearly sick and tired of saving [[TooDumbToLive stupid people]] from the consequences of their own [[IdiotPlot idiotic mistakes]], but he still keeps [[BigDamnHeroes charging into burning buildings]].
* LaserGuidedKarma
* ManOnFire: In a gigantic skyscraper on fire? Loads and loads.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Duncan and Roberts for their roles in making the skyscraper unsafe.
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: Horribly, horribly averted in the backstory.
* OhCrap: One of the firefighters on the way, upon being told that the fire was in the ''Glass Tower''.
--> "I sure hope that fire is on the first floor."
* PrecisionFStrike: "Oh, shit!," said by Chief O'Hallorhan when he realizes the top SFFD brass have no way to get him down from the top of the building after he sets the bombs to blow up the water tanks there to extinguish the fire.
** Roberts uses one on Duncan when chewing him out about cutting corners on the building.
** "Tie yourselves down, Goddammit!!!"
** "Oh they'll find some dumb sonnuvabitch to do it."
* RibbonCuttingCeremony
* SensitiveGuyAndManlyMan: Roberts and Chief O'Hallorhan. Both were essentially tough guys during their period in the movies, but [=McQueen=] was more commonly cast in "hardcore hero" roles.
* SerialEscalation: Once the fire starts, the '''entire movie''' is an escalating series of bad situations, and most of the time, people die - some times, quite a few of them.
* StuffBlowingUp
* TakeCareOfTheKids: An explosion knocks the scenic elevator off its track. Lisolette is holding Angela and shoves her into someone else's arms before the older woman falls from the glass elevator to her death.
* TeethClenchedTeamwork: Roberts and Chief O'Hallorhan dislike each other almost immediately, but they realize they need to cooperate to save lives.
* ThoseTwoGuys: The two firefighters who volunteer to go up the stairs.
* TooDumbToLive: The men are looking to see where a fire alarm is being triggered from, and one man proceeds to just open the door on a closet (which, as it turns out, is where the fire is) without checking the door to see if it's hot. The head of maintenance, Will Geddings, tries to stop him, and instead gets burned.
** You could also say this for the crowd of people who charge blindly into an elevator immediately after Duncan warns them that the fire would cause them to open up where the inferno is. Needless to say, it does not end well for them.
* UnintentionalPeriodPiece: Get a load of the groovy [[TheSeventies Seventies]] fashions and hairdos in the film.
** Actually probably less than WhatCouldHaveBeen. Irwin Allen made sure the men's hair wasn't that long and the fashion wasn't too loud.
* WaterTowerDown: [[spoiler: The fire is resolved by blowing up the huge water tanks on the top of the building.]]
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: So what happened to Wes (the utility guy) and all the people in the power room? And what became of [=Maureen McGovern=]?
** The power room was below the floors where the fire started, so they were just evacuated with everyone else.
** Almost happens, but averted at the [[BrickJoke very end with Jernigan and the cat]]. We see Jernigan save the cat early in the film, he's still in the building when we last see him, but don't see either again until the very end.
* WhatTheHellHero: O'Hallorhan gives one of these to Roberts. Later Roberts gives one to Duncan, and Duncan gives one to Roger, who fires back with one of his own.
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