Kathy: You. . .you have a lot of very fine qualities. But. . .
Joe Turner: What fine qualities?
Kathy: You have good eyes. Not kind, but they don’t lie, and they don’t look away much, and they don’t miss anything. I could use eyes like that.
Joe Turner: But you’re overdue in Vermont. Is he a tough guy?
Kathy: He’s pretty tough.
Joe Turner: What will he do?
Kathy: Understand, probably.
Joe Turner: Boy. That is tough.
Believe it or not, the Irwin Allen produced The Towering Inferno was not only nominated for eight Academy Awards, it won three of them. This star-studded ensemble disaster flick was not the first of its kind, but it is definitely one of the best. I remember when I first watched it, I was dubious of its merit and wondered about its Oscar pedigree, but in the end, I was sucked in by it and entertained from start to finish. If you look at a lot of the other Oscar nominated films from 1974 – and the 70s in general – The Towering Inferno is like a breath of fresh air made of pure entertainment. I hate the notion that Oscar nominated films need to be serious or arty or what have you. This is cinema in all its glory. The Towering Inferno’s Oscar nominations were as follows: Best Sound, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography (won), Best Film Editing (won), Best Original Song (won), Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Supporting Actor Fred Astaire and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Chinatown, The Conversation, Lenny and winner The Godfather Part II.
The first time I saw this film I was completely blown away. It’s eerie how a satirical film about television made 35 years ago can be so accurate within today’s world of television. I rewatched it recently and am just as in awe of it as ever. Network was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning four: Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay (won), Best Supporting Actor Ned Beatty, Best Supporting Actress Beatrice Straight (won), Best Actress Faye Dunaway (won), Best Actor William Holden, Best Actor Peter Finch (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were All The President’s Men, Bound For Glory, Taxi Driver and winner Rocky.
I actually discussed Bonnie and Clyde a little bit in my article last year about 1967 and how it was the year that Old Hollywood became New Hollywood (I actually discuss all five Best Picture nominees from that year, as well as In Cold Blood), so I was reluctant to revisit 1967 for awhile. But I wrote that article over a year ago now, so I guess it’s time to revisit 1967 after all. I remember when I first saw this film it completely blew me away and upon every revisit I remain in awe of what an utterly amazing feat of filmmaking prowess is on display here. I saw an interview with Arthur Penn, I believe, where he talked about how he decided he wanted to shoot the picture in color because he wanted it to feel modern. They weren’t making a documentary of Depression Era America. This film was going to feel as modern as it possibly could, without being avant-garde. I think Penn accomplished just that, and made it just modern enough to feel timeless, actually. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning two: Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography (won), Best Supporting Actor Gene Hackman, Best Supporting Actor Michael J. Pollard, Best Supporting Actress Estelle Parsons (won), Best Actor Warren Beatty, Best Actress Faye Dunaway, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Doctor Dolittle, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and winner In The Heat of the Night.
This is one of those films that’s often imitated but never duplicated (even with the ill-conceived 1990 sequel). It was directed by Roman Polanksi, who at the time was one of Hollywood’s hottest up and coming directors; was written by Robert Towne, who at the time was mostly known for some uncredited work on Bonnie & Clyde and The Godfather; and stared two of the most acclaimed young actors of their generation: Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, but only Robert Towne walked away a winner for his screenplay. It lost Best Picture to The Godfather Part II which is, perhaps, the most acclaimed sequel of all time.