Policeman: Nothin’s done right unless Tough Willy does it himself.
Lt. William Calhoun: How long you been working here?
Policeman: Four weeks tomorrow, Lieutenant.
Lt. William Calhoun: You need twenty-five years before you’re eligible for a pension. . .and you won’t make it. Not if you ever call me Willy.
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.
I absolutely adore this film. Since it was recently added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, I thought it would be a great time to explore this film. It’s one that is often overlooked and I think there’s some irrational anger aimed at it because of Judy Holliday’s win over both Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd. and Bette Davis in All About Eve. But I think that is a load of baloney. This is a great film and while Holliday’s performance may not have reached the iconic status of those other two performances, it is most definitely a deserved win. Billie Dawn is a remarkable character and Holliday plays her to perfection. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one: Best B&W Costume Design, Best Screenplay, Best Actress Judy Holliday (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Father of the Bride, King Solomon’s Mines, Sunset Blvd. and winner All About Eve.
Felix Farmer: Alright, writers! Writers! Who wrote Last Tango? Culley!
Tim Culley: Beats me.
Felix Farmer: My God, Culley! Neither one of us knows who wrote Last Tango!
Tim Culley: I hated it. I can never remember the names of people who perpetrate something I hate.
Felix Farmer: But that’s the trouble, don’t you see? I hated it too!
Tim Culley: In my opinion, a discretionary judgement.
Felix Farmer: But we’re wrong, Culley. That’s what they want! That’s where it’s at!
Tim Culley: It’s been my experience that every time I think I know “where it’s at,” it’s usually somewhere else.
Doug Roberts: I thought we were building something where people could work and live and be SAFE! If you had to cut costs, why didn’t you cut floors instead of corners?
James Duncan: Now listen. Any decisions that were made for the use of alternate building materials were made because I as a builder have a right to make those decisions. If I remained within the building code and god-dammit I did!
Doug Roberts: [Chuckling] Building code? Jesus. Building code. Come on, Dunc, I mean now that’s a standard cop-out for when you’re in trouble. See, I was crawling around up there. I mean duct holes weren’t fire-stopped! Corridors without fire doors in them, sprinklers that won’t work, and an electrical system that’s good for what? I mean it’s good for starting fires! Phew, where was I when all this was going on? Because I’m just as guilty as you and that god-damned son-in-law of yours! What do they call it when you kill people?
Later this year writer/director and comedic impresario Blake Edwards would have celebrated his 90th birthday. In celebration of this occasion, the Warner Archive has released three of his later comic gems: 1981’s S.O.B., 1982’s Victor Victoria and 1989’s Skin Deep. While these are all just re-releases and not remasters, the picture quality is wonderful on all three. There’s also great special features and subtitles – something lacking on many of the Warner Archive’s releases.
Donald Gresham: Why are you so preoccupied with sex?
Patty O’Neill: Who, me?
Donald Gresham: Yes, you.
Patty O’Neill: Do you really think I am?
Donald Gresham: Well, you are always asking if people plan seduction or they’re bored with virgins or they have a mistress. . .Now, if that isn’t being preoccupied with sex, I’d like to know what is.
Patty O’Neill: You may be right. [beat] But don’t you think it’s better for a girl to be preoccupied with sex than occupied?
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.