More Fire! The Building of The Towering Inferno: A 50th Anniversary Explosion

BearManor. Mar. 2023. 216p. ISBN 9798887710600. pap. $25. FILM
Anticipating the 50th anniversary of the 1974 Paul Newman film The Towering Inferno, Segaloff (The Mazursky Method) revisits the movie, a disaster flick that has become a landmark of the genre. The book introduces readers to Irwin Allen, the mogul behind the film, known for speculative-fiction television series and “group jeopardy” movies (a studio-coined term to prevent their films from being called “disasters”); Allen’s carefully managed persona makes him a cipher. Segaloff offers a biography curated from Allen’s public statements and with revealing bits from author-conducted interviews. Segaloff’s correspondence with The Towering Inferno screenwriter Stirling Silliphant informs much of the book, and Segaloff himself was involved in the movie’s regional marketing. Silliphant had the task of adapting two books into one screenplay, while managing the line-counting egos of the actors cast in this film. The movie was a coproduction between two studios and featured two directors; Allen helmed the action sequences, and John Guillermin handled the dramatic scenes. Despite these competing interests, the book avoids recounting the backstage bickering, instead choosing to celebrate the production and blockbuster result.

Correction: An earlier version of this review contained a misspelling of the author’s first name. LJ regrets the error.  

VERDICT Readers will enjoy this loving tribute to the movie and that era of filmmaking.
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