70’s Celebrity Smackdowns! The Disaster Epic Battles From “The Poseidon Adventure” and “The Towering Inferno!”


“Hell, Upside Down!”
Take a moment to enjoy what is, without a doubt, one of the greatest movie tag lines of all time! “Hell, Upside Down!”

Now, let’s find out how much of a “HELL” was endured on the set of the film!

Time to enjoy some classic movie mayhem. And time also to have a celebrity CATFIGHT!

Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, with a “sandwiched in” Faye Dunaway, sure look chummy in this picture, but wait until you hear about what happened on the set of their disaster epic “The Towering Inferno!”

That’s right, let’s go back to the 70’s, an era when disaster movies were BIG – and the Star feuds were BIGGER!

best disaster films

The Master Of Disaster!

There was an era in the 70’s when “disaster pictures” were the rage: huge blockbusters like “The Towering Inferno” with Steve McQueen and Paul Newman:

the towering inferno poster

But did you know how McQueen referred to Newman in conversations?

“That Fuckwit!”

Well, thanks to the great british film magazine EMPIRE, I’ve got a bunch of anecdotes about stars who hated other stars while acting in huge blockbuster disaster films!


I subscribe to EMPIRE – a truly great movie magazine full of great reviews, interviews, on-location reports and lots of stories about film – including one of their April issue that introduced British audiences to the original “Master of Disaster”, movie Producer Irwin Allen!

The Poseidon Adventure

The Poseidon Adventure!

“Hell, Upside Down.” That was the tagline for the greatest disaster movie of all time, which spawned a series of “disaster-themed” films throughout the rest of the 70’s – check out the trailer!


Yes, that was Leslie Nielsen as the Captain in the trailer, just one of a slew of recognizable faces in this star-studded disaster epic!

Poseidon Adventure

Gene Hackman – who just a year earlier won the Best Actor Oscar for “The French Connection” – plays Reverand Scott, who is on the ship that is capsized by a huge tidal wave! He must help a small group climb up to the bottom of the overturned luxury cruise ship!

classic disaster movies

This movie was Hollywood’s gold standard all right – Oscar winners Hackman, Shelley Winters and Ernest Borgnine – along with a bunch of other familiar faces – all struggling to survive!

great movie casts

A “Tricky” Gene Hackman, A Livid Shelley Winters!

A great anecdote from the magazine involves Gene Hackman, who Director Ronald Neame referred to as “tricky”. Hackman demanded to change a scene, shifting the focus from Shelley Winters to himself. Winters went ballistic:

“That scene is the only damn reason I’m doing the movie and Hackman’s not going to take it away from me!”


Winters lost the argument, and she later said that filming the revised scene was, in her words:

“the most dreadful morning I’ve had since I made a film with Judy Garland.”

What a classic line! I love catty Hollywood insider stories, and since “The Poseidon Adventure” was a huge smash, Producer Irwin Allen had more Hollywood cattiness to come!

Now, time for a heated “Inferno!”

the towering-inferno

Steve McQueen’s Battle With Paul Newman!

The magazine also offered an inside look at Irwin Allen’s “The Towering Inferno”, starring Steve McQueen and Paul Newman – and of course, more Star fights!

First, check out the trailer for this hugely popular 1975 disaster film:

classic steve mcqueen

Empire tells the whole story about how Irwin Allen got both superstars to appear in the film, without realizing that McQueen HATED Newman! Even after becoming a superstar, McQueen always felt Newman was treated better by the press and the industry, and it drove him crazy.

great movie feuds

The problems began even before they began filming. McQueen read the screenplay for “Inferno” and counted all of his lines – and then he counted Newman’s – and discovered the other Actor had twelve more lines than he did. His response?

“Goddmanit, that fucker’s always twisting my melon!”

best disaster films

“The Fuckwit!”

McQueen was so jealous of Newman’s popularity he always referred to him as “the fuckwit!” None of their rivalry impacted the end result, however, as “The Towering Inferno” was a huge box office smash!

These are two classic disaster films that helped spark the era of blockbuster cinema – and I love stories about stars who fight on the set!


The late Carrie Fisher wasn’t shy about some of the wild times she experienced red while making films – in fact, she shared a whole bunch about “Star Wars!”

This book is filled with great stories about the making of “Star Wars” – all told with Fisher’s hilarious wit – and you can see more about this book by clicking on my story here:

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Categories: 70's Cinema, Action Films, Books / Media, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Great Films, Hollywood, Movies, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities

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11 replies

  1. The Poseidon adventure sounds very interesting. I am sure I have seen it a long time ago. I’ll have to research it more and confirm its the same film I am remembering.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Poseidon Adventure was an absolute favorite. Super movies, and who knew that there was such drama behind the scenes!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the disaster movies of the 70s, and you’ve got to give credit to the actors involved in these spats. Their rivalries never showed in the movies.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved the 70s disaster movies! And love the behind the scenes battles in the real world

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The off-screen bitchiness is fun to read about indeed. Of the two, I preferred Poseidon. I saw both on very big screens at London cinemas, and enjoyed the effects on the overturned ship more than the fire.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Paul Newman And Joanne Woodward Were “The Last Movie Stars!” A Terrific And Candid New Mini-Series Explores Hollywood Royalty! – johnrieber

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