10 January 2009

Paul Newman in "The Towering Inferno"

Paul Newman as Doug Roberts

In 1974, Doug Roberts builds the tallest skyscraper in the world in San Francisco. At a total of 136 stories, I really don't want to do the math as to how tall this sky scraper is. I'm guessing well over a mile high though, judging by the ego's of the film's two stars, Newman and McQueen.

The opening credits: The Jetseting Architect

One hero is the Architect that must navigate the complicated plans and systems of this building for the film's second hero, McQueen's Fire Chief, to fulfill his job description. To those of you in the business out there, you'll be happy to learn that the film's villains are the contractor and the electrical engineer. These two skip on costs, use shoddy building material and 'only' build to code, which of course, is not what the architect spec'ed. In the end, the two heroes must blow up the water tanks above the penthouse of the tower to drown the conflagration.

The 136 story 'Glass Tower'

By Far, the best part of the movie is the brief encounters between Newman and McQueen.

Chief O'Hallorhan: [sighs] Architects.
Doug Roberts: Yeah, it's all our fault.
Chief O'Hallorhan: Now, you know there's no sure way for us to fight a fire in anything over the seventh floor, but you guys just keep building 'em as high as you can.
Doug Roberts: Hey. Are you here to take me on, or the fire?

Newman pretends to look at drawrings

Doug Roberts: [picks up ringing phone] Roberts.
Chief O'Hallorhan: It's out of control, and it's coming your way. You got about fifteen minutes. Now, they wanna try somethin'. They wanna blow those water tanks two floors above you. They think it might kill the fire.
Doug Roberts: How're they gonna get the explosives up here?
Chief O'Hallorhan: [after already having been given the task] Oh, they'll find some dumb son of a bitch to bring it up.

Breaking the rules:
Riding elevators while the building is on fire

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.

Newman saves children

[last Lines ]
Chief O'Hallorhan: You know we were pretty lucky tonight, body count's less then 200. You know, one of these days, you're gonna kill ten-thousand in one of these firetraps, and I'm gonna keep eating smoke and carrying out bodies until someone asks us... how to build them.
Doug Roberts: Ok, I'm asking.
Chief O'Hallorhan: You know where to reach me. Goodbye, Architect.

Setting the C-4, Doug Roberts does his
best Howard Roark impression.

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