The Towering Inferno

Corrected entry: When the firemen get to the scene the fire chief makes the comment 'Keep it high' then gets in the elevator. When there is a fire you don't get into an elevator, you use the stairs.


Correction: Firemen sometimes use the elevator. That's why there is a Fireman's Key in most elevators, which allows firemen control of the elevator to bypass floors that aren't affected, and get to the burning floors faster.


Corrected entry: During the explosions of the water tanks on the top floor, if you look closely as the miniatures explode, part of the floor is already broken and falls apart a second before the explosives go off.

Correction: When the architect and fire chief are talking while setting explosives he states that the floor has to give first. There is an Instant cord and a time lag one to allow for this to happen.

Corrected entry: When Wagner's character tries to phone for help but it was not working didn't he say to one of his assistants to "turn off the phones i had enough with phones for one day" so why should he try the phone when he wanted the phones disconnected?

Correction: Robert Wagner seems to stop, think and carry on. I always believed that he remembered telling his secretary to turn off the phones but carried on with the charade so his girlfiend wouldn't panic.

Corrected entry: Near the end of the movie, Paul Newman is seen descending the stairwell and avoiding fire as is extends from one of the doorways. Unfortunately he is using the metal handrail with his bare hands but it doesn't seem to be very hot.

Correction: The fire from the doorway does not come in contact with the handrail anywhere near the places that Roberts is touching it. And for all we know it could be very hot; just not hot enough to burn his hands.

BocaDavie Premium member

Corrected entry: In the security room. The security guard shouts out "there's something on 81","On 65 the whole reception area is on fire",and "What's she doing on 87?" Now in 1974 when the movie was made. The security systems were not like they are now. You still had night watchmen,and watchclock stations. Besides that there was nothing identifying what the view screens were monitoring.


Correction: In 1975 you might not have the on-screen display of what floor you were looking at; the buttons that you press to bring up a display would be labeled to indicate which view you were selecting. As for the staffing and knowledge of the security room, it was the grand opening of the tallest building on the west coast, we'll have to assume that the security room and guards functioned as they're shown in the film.

BocaDavie Premium member

Corrected entry: How on earth did they fill those tanks with almost four thousand tonnes of water? The tanks are 1,800 feet off the ground! There is no pump in the world that could lift water that high - the hydraulic pressure is beyond the means of present day technology, let alone that of 1974.

Correction: This is simply not true. If this were the case then there would be no way to have toilets or sinks on the top occupied levels of the tower. While it is true that there is no way for ground level water pressure to reach that height, there are other ways around this. In the Sears Tower, for example, the water is pumped up to holding tanks on various upper floors, then additional pumps push the water further up the tower. See for more info.


Corrected entry: When the first woman to use the breeches buoy is almost to safety, in the background you see the burning glass tower. In the lower part of the burning tower, there are two windows which have in them, not fire or flames, but alternating red lights? I can't for the life of me figure out what they are doing there. You can see these mysterious red lights again when O'Hallorhan is being lifted by chopper to save the people trapped in the scenic elevator.

Correction: This is very simple these red lights are on the edges of the peerles building watch behind Steve McQueen when he reaches the top of the building you can see them behind him.

Corrected entry: In the opening scenes, as the helicopter carrying Doug Roberts approaches the tower landing pad, you see the wind sock going from right to left, yet the helicopter approaches the camera straight on. An aviator will always land straight into the wind - there's nothing to prevent them from doing it here.

Correction: This is not true yes normally helicopters fly the way of the wind but look at the sock it is very calm wind not to bad so the pilot could have easily landed the helicopter and been ok.

Corrected entry: It is stated several times that the tanks on the top of the building contain one million gallons of water. Know how much one million gallons of water weighs? Two thousand, two hundred and sixty eight metric tonnes. There is no building in the world that could take that kind of weight on the top floor, and this doesn't even begin to take into account the huge steel tanks, pumps, pipes and what have you. It would be like sticking a brick on top of a drinking straw.

Correction: This is false. The "brick on a straw" theory is completely innacurate. A single tower of The World Trade Center, which was 30+ stories less than this fictional Tower, contained well over 100,000 tons of "just" steel, not counting the concrete, etc. Also, a million gallons of water actually weighs 3,782 metric tons, not 2,268. Even at 3,782 tons plus the extra weight of tanks and equipment, a building of this size would not have a problem supporting that weight. It would be more like placing a brick on a 55-gallon barrel, not a drinking straw.


Corrected entry: Paul Newman is leading Jennifer Jones and two children down a stairwell damaged by the fire. They reach the 83rd floor, but end up in the Penthouse Restaurant on the top (137th) floor.

Correction: They do get off at 83, but use the service elevator to go up to 134 just below the Promenade Room because as Paul Newman says, they can't go down because the fire is below them.

Corrected entry: There are far too many plate-glass (as opposed to safety glass) widows in high floors of the whole tower. One is even broken by a woman throwing a dining chair through it. Try that with your home double-glazing even.

Correction: You have to remember that the builders were found out to have cut corners in the building materials to save money, which could be the reason for the glass windows breaking so easy.

Corrected entry: Just after the people have been subjected to the fire down on the 81st floor, they come up with the elevator to the promenade again. After that, we are shown a outside view of the tower. There now seem to be two fires, almost 15 floors apart.

Correction: Paul Newman in the movie tells Duncan that the because of the "fooky wiring" fires could break out all over the building. It is likely that more than one floor would catch fire.

Corrected entry: In the scene where Robert Wagner's blonde secretary, dressed only in a man's shirt, is trapped in a flaming room, she bashes out a picture window with a chair. The rush of air causes the flames to billow towards the window, igniting the secretary, and she falls/dives out the window to her death. The stunt double who catches fire is obviously fully dressed, as you can see the outline of his fireproof suit, complete with trousers. When the secretary goes out the window, she's dressed only in her shirt.

Correction: She is not wearing protective panties, she has not got anything on under that shirt thats why in some scenes you can not see her bum or her legs open because she has nothing on. This is confirmed by the DVD commentary.

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.

BocaDavie Premium member

More mistakes in The Towering Inferno

Dan Bigelow: What happened, somebody hang the wallpaper upside down?

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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.

raywest Premium member

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.

raywest Premium member

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