The Towering Inferno

Revealing mistake: Watch carefully as the statue falls on the bartender. It barely touches his chest and rests on his left thigh. As the bartender slumps dead you can see a wide open gap between his whole upper body and the statue. Even if it crushed his thigh it would not have killed him so quickly. When the bartender slumps down the statue rocks freely as he brushes against it; obviously a styrofoam replica.


Continuity mistake: During the scenic elevator rescue scenes, the building has moved across the downtown core and is now located next to the Transamerica Pyramid, which is many city blocks to the west.

Continuity mistake: When O.J. Simpson (Security Guard) attempts to rescue the mother and 2 children from their apartment, he kicks the door in. If you look closely, the door is actually open and he's holding it shut so he "can" kick it in! (01:06:45)

Continuity mistake: In the establishing shot of the San Francisco skyline, the building appears to be located off Market Street and facing the viewer (elevator tracks facing the front of the building). In a night-time shot from the Bay Bridge, the building has "turned around" and faces the other way.

Other mistake: During the scenic elevator rescue scene, a helicopter lowers the Fire Chief down to connect a cable to the top of the elevator. The cable is seen to be hanging no more than three feet from the side of the building. If this were the case, the helicopter's rotors would be hitting the building. (02:04:10 - 02:06:10)

The Towering Inferno mistake picture

Revealing mistake: When the security guard attempts to open the storage room door where the fire has started, he is set ablaze. Look closely, and he is wearing large protective gloves over his hands, plus a special mask. (00:38:15)

The Towering Inferno mistake picture

Revealing mistake: On the roof during the helicopter rescue scene, there is a panic and some women run to the helicopter trying to land in strong winds. As it explodes, a woman in a slinky dress falls down. Paul Newman helps her up and her dress is whisked up to reveal "stuntwoman" kneepads on her legs. (01:51:15)

Revealing mistake: When Dan Bigelow tries to save himself and his girlfriend from certain death by racing through the flames to get help, watch as he falls to his death. The stuntman portraying him is wearing a protective glove on his right hand. (01:04:40)

Continuity mistake: When Steve McQueen is removing his fire suit in the elevator, his tie is loose. But when he runs into the promenade room right afterwards, his tie is secured by a tie clip.

Revealing mistake: When Dan Bigelow is going out to get help, at one point you can see him dipping down to get ignited. (01:04:00)

Plot hole: There are numerous problems with the final solution to putting out multiple burning floors of a skyscraper by blowing the water tanks under the roof. Blowing the floor under the tanks only channels the water into the Promanade Room. From there it cascades out the windows and - as we see in the film - falls to the ground without touching the fires on the lower floors. A tiny percentage makes it into the stairwell door and elevator shaft, despite the fact that the elevator doors were closed. All of the stairwell and elevator doors in the building were shut; none of this water makes it to the fire. Also, as we see the flames going out from all the floors no water is coming out of any of those windows, proving that the fires are going out without any water.


Plot hole: The roof of the building is fully engulfed in flames (from the helicopter explosion) right up to the point where they blow the water tanks. When they explode the water tanks the whole building is put out. It would have been impossible for the water tanks to put out the roof fire; it was above the tanks. Although all of the building shots at the end of the film are looking up at the structure you can see flames shooting off the roof before the tank explosions, then no roof flames whatsoever after.


Factual error: The device used near the end of the movie for ferrying people to another building is repeatedly referred to as a "breeches buoy." It is actually a highline transfer chair. A breeches buoy was an earlier, more primitive device that was basically an oversized life preserver with a pair of large canvas trousers (breeches) sewn to it.

Continuity mistake: In the early part of the TV version. They are holding a meeting in Mr.Bigelows' office regarding Romane Conti. He asked a gentleman from Phoenix on the phone if he could get the wine. Then told his assistant "go get it". A flight plan would have to be filed,and the flying time from SFO to PHX is about 2 hours. Then to find the place where he has to get the Romane Conti. I lived in the Phoenix area for almost 13 years and it is spread out. Then get back to the airport,another 2 hour flight. I would say the fire department would have gotten there first.


Character mistake: Just before the fire starts on the 81st floor, a man is shown telling an elderly couple that business offices only go as high as 80, and that 81-120 is exclusively residential. Not long after O'Hallorhan arrives, he asks Jernigan for a list of business tenants from 81-85, which Jernigan replies "most are yet to move in and those that have are not working at night". As said by the man earlier, these floors do not house business tenants, only residential. (00:12:05 - 00:43:45)


Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: Chief O'Halloran asked Doug for the floor plans from 81-85. He then asked Jernigan for a list of business tenants. Chief O'Halloran did not ask for businesses on any specific floor.

Mike Motter

Continuity mistake: Roberts rings Duncan and tells him Will Giddings has suffered burns and there is a fire in the building. We hear the whole conversation and Duncan ends it by saying, "A fire in a storage room on 81 can't hurt us up here," but Roberts never mentioned where the fire is. (00:39:45)


Revealing mistake: When Lorrie throws the chair out the window, follow its path down. It bounces off a mat, revealing that she's about two feet off the ground. (Corrected in the BluRay release). (00:01:00)

Continuity mistake: In the shot where the 12 people are going down the scenic elevator, you can see the fire coming through the windows but then, when it widens out the shot to show the helicopter flying nearby, there are no flames whatsoever on any floor of the building. (01:57:35)

Continuity mistake: When the elevator is lowering Susan and the rest of the women, the amount of lit floors and the brightness of the lights on the building changes noticeably depending on the shot.


The Towering Inferno mistake picture

Continuity mistake: When water is cascading outside the building a man jumps out of a window, producing a hole in the glass. When another man jumps out of the window next to that one, the hole in the glass has a different shape and the hole is several centimeters below where it was before.


Doug Roberts: I don't know. Maybe they just oughta leave it the way it is. Kind of a shrine to all the bullshit in the world.

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More trivia for The Towering Inferno

Answer: Mainly it was about egos (mostly McQueen's) and a professional rivalry, not only as top movie stars, but also as auto racers. McQueen considered himself a superior driver to Newman, even though they never competed against each other. When McQueen was considered to co-star with Newman in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," McQueen wanted top billing, then dropped out when he wouldn't receive it, even though Newman was considered the bigger star. In "The Towering Inferno," McQueen supposedly obsessed over how many lines he had compared to Newman.


Expanding on this: McQueen's demand for top billing continued on this film (as did William Holden's, but he was never a serious candidate), which is why the end result was "staggered": McQueen's name was to the left but lower, while Newman's was higher but to the right, so both had top billing depending how one read it (left-to-right, or top-to-bottom). Studies have shown that the name audiences tend to see first is the one on the left, regardless of staggering, so McQueen may have "won" here.

Newman does get a small victory of sorts at the end of this film when the cast credits begin scrolling upward on the screen. Newman's and McQueen's names are again staggered like in the beginning intro, but Newman's name appears first as it scrolls up from the screen's bottom.


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