The trailer for The Longest Day calls this one of the most ambitious films ever made and I think that is still true today. It would take multiple posts to write about everything there is to write about with this film. Instead, I am going to write about a few of my favorite performers in the film (look at that cast list; it’s insane!). You can read a lot about the production of the film here. I used to love this movie when I was a kid and was lucky enough to see it on the big screen at the TCM Film Festival in 2012 (first thing in the morning, too!). If you ever get a chance to see it on the big screen, don’t miss it! It’s amazing. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning two: Best Film Editing, Best B&W Art Direction, Best B&W Cinematography (won), Best Special Effects and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were: The Music Man, Mutiny on the Bounty, To Kill a Mockingbird and winner Lawrence of Arabia.
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.
Dr. Evil: You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that can’t be done. Can you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here! What do we have?
Number Two: Sea Bass.
Dr. Evil: [beat] Riiiight.
Number Two: They are mutated sea bass.
Dr. Evil: Really? Are they ill-tempered?
Number Two: Absolutely.
Dr. Evil: Oh, well, that’s a start.