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Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire and OJ Simpson are just some of the 1970s superstars trapped in a burning skyscraper.
The towering achievement of director Irwin 'Master of Disaster' Allen's career - with a budget so big that it required funds from both Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Brothers - and made to a formula of which he never tired. You know the one. Stick a mixed cast of mainlining stars and doddery but well-loved old-timers in a confined space, and put them though merry hell. The scene of this disaster is a 130-storey building, a vertical Titanic which peers over the skyline of San Francisco.
Paul Newman is the compromised architect wrestling with his moment of hubris, Faye Dunaway his fiancee, William Holden the building contractor who didn't fit enough of the skyscraper equivalent of lifeboats. Down on the ground, Steve McQueen is the hardhat trying to damp down the flames - but not until the starry cast (Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, etc.) have been made to clamber down air ducts, get stuck in smoke-filled lift shafts, and received their requisite frazzling.
Ironically, there's now something almost comforting about the way the film sticks to formula, but the action is still authentically thrilling.
Still a Titanic example of the 1970s disaster movie.
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