The Towering Inferno

  • Directors: John Guillermin, Irwin Allen
  • Producers: Irwin Allen
  • Writers: Novel, Richard Martin Stern, Thomas N Scortia, Frank M Robinson, Screenplay, Stirling Silliphant
  • Genres: Action, Thriller, Drama
  • Actors: Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Susan Blakely, Richard Chamberlain, Jennifer Jones, O J Simpson, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner

Architect Doug Roberts (Paul Newman) arrives from a vacation for the dedication of the newly completed Glass Tower (which he designed) in San Francisco. At 138 stories, the skyscraper is the tallest building in the world and a dedication party is planned. Upon his arrival by helicopter, he meets building financier Jim Duncan (William Holden). Duncan reveals his plans for additional skyscrapers across the U.S., but Roberts wants to focus instead on building communities in rural areas, which causes friction with his girlfriend Susan Franklin (Faye Dunaway) who has been given a major promotion for the magazine she works for and wants to stay in the city. During a romantic rendezvous between Roberts and Susan, building technicians in the main utility room conduct a routine check of the building’s electrical systems. During the check, a circuit breaker unexpectedly shorts out and sends a power surge up into the building, culminating in the building’s relay system breaker shorting out in a storage room on the 81st floor, causing a small fire that stays contained and unnoticed due to a combination of a lack of accelerants and the shortcomings of the building’s security systems. Roberts is notified and presents a scorched wire from the utility room breaker to Duncan, who is baffled by the flare-up. Roberts goes to confront chief electrical engineer and Duncan’s son-in-law Roger Simmons (Richard Chamberlain) over the flare-up. During a tense meeting with Roberts at Simmons’ house, Simmons pleads ignorance and insists to Roberts that the building is up to code standards but does not admit to changing Roberts’s specifications. Roberts is skeptical of the building’s electrical system and demands Simmons bring the specifications to his office the next day and heads back to the building.

Outside the building, Roberts comments to Susan that he is unsure what will become of the building, but that perhaps it should be left alone as a symbol of the world’s problems. O’Hallorhan joins them and states that though fewer than 200 people died, the casualties could have been much worse, and a worse disaster is possible if builders and architects are not willing to take fire safety and fire fighting into account more seriously with skyscrapers. Roberts looks up at the charred skyscraper and promises to consult with O’Hallorhan on such matters in the future.

Network

  • Directors: Sidney Lumet
  • Producers: Howard Gottfried
  • Writers: Paddy Chayefsky
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, Ned Beatty, Beatrice Straight

The story opens with long-time “UBS Evening News” anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) being fired because of the show’s low ratings. He has two more weeks on the air, but the following night, Beale announces on live television that he will commit suicide by shooting himself in the head during an upcoming live broadcast.[2]

UBS immediately fires him after this incident, but they let him back on the air, ostensibly for a dignified farewell, with persuasion from Beale’s best friend and president of the News division, Max Schumacher (William Holden), the network’s old guard news editor. Beale promises that he will apologize for his outburst, but instead rants about how life is “bullshit,” which he utters repeatedly. While there are serious repercussions, the program’s ratings soar and, much to Schumacher’s dismay, the upper echelons of UBS decide to exploit Beale’s antics rather than pulling him off the air.

In one impassioned diatribe, Beale galvanizes the nation with his rant, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” and persuades Americans to shout out their windows during a spectacular lightning storm. Soon Beale is hosting a new program called The Howard Beale Show, top-billed as a “mad prophet of the airways.” Ultimately, the show becomes the highest rated (Duvall’s character calls it “a big, fat-assed, big-titted hit!”) program on television, and Beale finds new celebrity preaching his angry message in front of a live audience that, on cue, repeats the Beale’s marketed catchphrase en masse. His new set is lit by blue spotlights and an enormous stained-glass window, supplemented with segments featuring astrology, gossip, opinion polls, and yellow journalism.

The movie ends with Beale being shot to death on live television. As the narrator states that Beale was the first man ever murdered because of bad ratings, an array of televisions play newscasts reporting the incident matter-of-factly, intermixed with the noise of commercials.

Bonnie and Clyde

  • Directors: Arthur Penn
  • Producers: Warren Beatty
  • Writers: David Newman, Robert Benton, Uncredited, Robert Towne, Warren Beatty
  • Genres: Action, Biography, Crime, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • Actors: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway

In the middle of the Great Depression, Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) meet when Clyde tries to steal Bonnie’s mother’s car. Bonnie, who is bored by her job as a waitress, is intrigued with Clyde, and decides to take up with him and become his partner in crime. They do some holdups, but their amateur efforts, while exciting, are not very lucrative.

The duo’s crime spree shifts into high gear once they hook up with a dim-witted gas station attendant, C.W. Moss (a composite of the real W. D. Jones and Henry Methvin played by Michael J. Pollard). The three are joined by Clyde’s brother, Buck (Gene Hackman), and his wife, Blanche (Estelle Parsons), a preacher’s daughter. Soon a long-simmering feud between Bonnie and Blanche begins; the once-prim Blanche views Bonnie as a harpy corrupting her husband and brother-in-law, while Bonnie sees Blanche as an incompetent, shrill shrew.

With their gang now assembled, Bonnie and Clyde turn from pulling small-time heists to robbing banks. Their exploits also become more violent. When C.W., the get-away driver, botches a bank robbery by parallel parking the car, Clyde shoots the bank manager in the face after he jumps onto the slow-moving car’s running board. The gang is pursued by law enforcement, including Frank Hamer (Denver Pyle), a Texas Ranger who is captured and humiliated by the outlaws, then set free. With a score to settle, the ranger leads a raid that kills Buck, injures Bonnie and Clyde, and leaves Blanche sightless and in police custody. Hamer tricks Blanche, whose eyes are bandaged, into revealing the name of C.W. Moss, known in the press only as an unnamed accomplice.

The Ranger locates Bonnie and Clyde and C.W. hiding at the house of C.W.’s father, Ivan Moss (Dub Taylor). Because Ivan thinks Bonnie and Clyde have corrupted his son, he strikes a bargain with Hamer: in exchange for a lenient jail sentence for C.W., he reveals Bonnie and Clyde’s location and helps set a trap for them. When Bonnie and Clyde are ambushed while stopped by the side of the road, the police riddle their bodies with bullets in a blood bath.

Chinatown

  • Directors: Roman Polanski
  • Producers: Robert Evans
  • Writers: Robert Towne
  • Genres: Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston

A Los Angeles private investigator named J.J. “Jake” Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is hired to spy on Hollis Mulwray, the chief engineer for the city’s water department. The woman hiring Gittes (Diane Ladd) claims to be Mulwray’s wife Evelyn, suspecting him of adultery. But Mulwray spends most of his time investigating dry riverbeds and drainage outlets. He also has a heated argument in public with an elderly man. Gittes finally catches Mulwray during an outing with a young blonde and photographs the pair, which becomes a scandal in the press. After the story is published, Gittes is confronted by the real Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway). She threatens to sue. Jake’s been duped by the phony. He needs to find out who did this and why.

Clues suggest a scandal in the city government: Despite a serious drought and an expensive proposal to build a new dam (a plan Mulwray vehemently opposes), the Water and Power department is dumping fresh water into the ocean at night.

On a tip, Gittes looks for Mulwray at a reservoir but finds the police there instead, investigating Mulwray’s death by drowning. When the police speak to Mrs. Mulwray about the death, she lets them assume that she hired Gittes, which he corroborates. At the county morgue, Gittes sees the body of a homeless man who allegedly drowned in the L.A. River, while it had been nearly dry during a drought. Gittes confronts Evelyn and tells her that his investigation so far suggests that her husband was murdered. She thanks him and hires him to investigate what happened to her husband.

When Cross approaches Katherine, demanding custody of her, Evelyn pushes him back, shoots him in the arm and starts her car. As Evelyn is driving away, the police open fire and Evelyn is shot and killed. Cross clutches Katherine, taking her out of the car, as a devastated Gittes is comforted by his associates, who urge him to walk away: “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”