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.

Capricorn One

  • Directors: Peter Hyams
  • Producers: Paul N Lazarus III
  • Writers: Peter Hyams
  • Genres: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Elliott Gould, James Brolin, Brenda Vaccaro, Sam Waterston, O J Simpson, Hal Holbrook, Karen Black, Telly Savalas, David Huddleston, David Doyle, James Karen

The setting is the late 1970s, and the first manned mission to Mars is on the launch pad. NASA authorities including Dr. James Kelloway (Hal Holbrook) realize that a faulty life support system has doomed any chance of a successful flight, so for political and financial purposes they decide to fake the landing rather than cancel the mission.

Minutes before launch, the bewildered crew of Col. Brubaker (James Brolin), Lt. Col. Willis (Sam Waterston), and Cmdr. Walker (O. J. Simpson) are removed from the capsule and flown to an old abandoned United States Army Air Corps base deep within the desert. The televised launch proceeds on schedule, but the public is unaware that the spacecraft (Capricorn One) does not have a crew.

At the remote base, the astronauts are informed they will fake the television footage from Mars and it is their patriotic duty to participate. Initially they refuse, but authorities imply their careers and the lives of their families are at stake if they do not cooperate.

The astronauts remain in captivity for a period of several months and are filmed landing on Mars within a studio located at the base. The conspiracy is known to only a select few NASA officials, until alert technician Elliot Whittier (Robert Walden) stumbles across a bizarre technical anomaly i.e. television transmissions from Mars made by the crew are being received by ground control before the spacecraft telemetry arrives. He is confused by the anomaly and wishes to investigate further, but is told not to worry about it by his employer. Even so, Whittier feels sufficiently uneasy to share his concerns with journalist friend Robert Caulfield (Elliott Gould) at a local bar, but before Whittier can fully set out his concerns, he mysteriously disappears.

The film ends with Caulfield bringing Brubaker to the astronauts’ memorial service, exposing the conspiracy in dramatic fashion in front of dozens of witnesses and live national television.