Wednesday, August 19, 2009

City on Fire (1979)

I adore... no, love disaster movies. It's something about the thin plot, underwritten characters, shameless exploitation of human feelings and often quite graphic carnage that feels close to me. Disaster movies are good as long they're not on an airplane or under water. But that's a whole different story. City on Fire is together with the Roger Corman-produced Avalanche, one of my biggest guilty pleasures and I never get tired of it. 

The swedish x-rental has been in my possession a long time, but nowdays I usually watch the limited X-Rated release which is dubbed in german! Believe me, it dosen't matter. The dialogue is as stupid anyway. 

Barry Newman, the cool actor that didn't get such a big career is good as the honest doctor, Ava Gardner does a variation of her character in Earthquake - the alcholic emotion-monster, Leslie Nielsen is the brave mayor, Shelley Winters the tough nurse, James Franciscus as Gardners loving TV-producer and of course Henry Fonda, standing more or less in the same location the whole movie, as with almost all his movies during this time.

A crazy guy, Jonathan Welsh - not bad at all, get's revenge at the oil refinery because he's being promoted! Well, he dosen't want to get promoted and refuses the job, and they fire him instead. So he sets the whole place on fire and then ends up as one of the rescue workers at the hospital that everything revolves around. 

And as in every soap opera, all characters meet somehow and destinys are sealed... 

Yeah, there's nothing new at all here. But I just love it. I can't stop loving it. It's like heroin ;) No, just kidding. But this movie gives us so much cool stunt work, violent fires and huge explosions that it's hard not to love it. I guess some is stock footage, but a lot is shot for this movie. The fire stunts are very spectacular and even beats a lot of the stuff from Towering Inferno. One of the best scenes is when a woman runs down a street and slowly catches fire. Great stunt, and a lot of it in one take to. 

For being a tv-movie it's also very nasty. The make-up effects of burned victims are really good and looks terrible! Not much are being hidden from the audience. Sure, it might be tv-crap, but it's so much fun and so much action. And don't we all love Leslie Nielsens career before he became a comedy star? He's the man! He won't be wresting with a bear in this one, but sure takes control over a whole hospital and even survives in the end! 


Phantom of Pulp said...

Thanks for this stellar review, Ninja (Fred). I saw this quite a while ago and enjoyed it immensely.

Ninja Dixon said...

Happy you liked it! A very underrated movie!

Anonymous said...

There's an error in your review. You said that "City On Fire" was a TV movie. That's incorrect - the movie was released to theaters.

Ninja Dixon said...

Correct! I noticed that a long time ago, but I've been too lazy to change it :) Thanks!