|When "The Poseidon Adventure" opened in December 1972, Irwin Allen immediately began looking for a follow up vehicle. He set his sights on a soon-to-be-released novel called "The Tower" by Richard Martin Stern. It concerned an outbreak of fire at the worlds tallest building during its opening night festivities. He was outbid on the rights by Warner Brothers, and soon he bought up the rights to a near identical novel called "The Glass Inferno" by Thomas Scortia and Frank Robinson. Realizing that releasing two movies that are basically the same story, the studios did what was then an unprecedented move, they teamed up to create one movie: "The Towering Inferno". $11 million dollars was budgeted with both studios sharing the expenses and box office returns. Irwin Allen gathered most of his production team from "Poseidon" back in to help him create his vision. John Guillerman would direct the dramatic sections of the film, with Allen directing the Action Unit. He rounded up an impressive cast including Paul Newman as the architect of "The Glass Tower", Steve McQueen as the San Francisco fire chief, William Holden as the owner of the building, Faye Dunaway as Newmans girlfriend, Fred Astaire was brought out of semi-retirement to play a con man, Jennifer Jones as the woman he romances, Richard Chamberlain as the slimy sub-contractor married to Holdens daughter, played by Susan Blakely, O.J. Simpson, as the head of security(hold the jokes) and Robert Wagner as the head of P.R.
Shooting started in May of 1974. 57 sets were built (of which only 2 were left standing at the end of shooting) There was sparks on stage and off as several of the stars had moments of temper. McQueen and Newman, to the studios horror, insisted on doing all their own stunts, with several injuries resulting. With shooting locations in San Francisco and studio work in Burbank and numerous model shots, the movie completed shooting on September 11th, 1974. The movie premièred on December 16th to mixed reviews but was a huge hit with the public, grossing 200 million on its first release. It got harsh words from builders who said that the movie wasn't accurate in its portrayal of safety in modern buildings.
The movie was nominated for 8 Academy Awards. It won 3, for Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Song, "We May Never Love Like This Again" by the same songwriting team that won an Oscar for The Poseidon Adventure's love song: "The Morning After"
The Television version re-inserts 45 minutes of footage.