It’s got a thin plot with more than a few holes in it, but The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), directed by Norman Jewison, is an unmitigated treat for the eyes. The film stars icon Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown, a bored millionaire who pulls off an elaborate bank heist and gets involved with the bank’s insurance investigator, played by Faye Dunaway. That’s pretty much it.
The film was a departure for McQueen. In his life and previous work, he was not at all like the polished, groomed and tailored Thomas Crown, though he did share the character’s affinity for cars.
The Thomas Crown Affair cannot boast a deep, meaningful or life-changing story, but it is seriously slick entertainment. Most enjoyable indeed.
The Towering Inferno was one of the standout films of the 70s disaster movie wave. Produced by Irwin Allen, who also produced The Poseidon Adventure two years earlier, the movie takes place in The Glass Tower, a brand new 138 story skyscraper in San Francisco that catches fire on the night of the opening gala taking place on the building’s top floor.
Starting with Airport in 1970, the proper 70s disaster movie featured an all-star cast. The Towering Inferno delivered in spades, boasting the biggest names of the day: Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, Susan Blakely, Jennifer Jones, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner and… wait for it… O.J. Simpson. It also featured an uncredited cameo by Maureen McGovern, who sang the movie’s Oscar-winning song “We May Never Love Like This Again.”
By today’s action/adventure/disaster movie standards, The Towering Inferno might seem slow in its pace. But on its own, it actually has a very grown-up and sober speed, giving characters and story time to develop. By the time the shit really hits the fan, and the fire grows out of control and burns its way to the top floor, we’ve actually learned a lot about the characters and grown to like them or dislike them, whichever is appropriate. When someone dies, the movie isn’t casual about the casualties. There is actually a certain poignancy to the loss of lives.
This is a movie in the pre-digital age, where all of the special effects were shot in-camera. The miniatures and special effects look amazing. Real people, real stunts and real fire. Due to the success of The Poseidon Adventure, Irwin Allen had a huge $14,000,000 budget for this massive production that brought together two studios: Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros.
A big nod goes to costume designer Paul Zastupnevich, who designed the clothes for the film. The Hollywood movie star glamour is in full-tilt, and everybody looks amazing, stepping out in great style in their gala formalwear (until, of course, the fire ruins the party).
The Towering Inferno was nominated for eight Academy Awards in 1975 and won three of them (Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Music/Original Song). It is simply one of the greatest disaster flicks ever made.