Thursday, 20 January 2011

A tale of a glass elevator

Apologies, I've been vacationing in the United States, soaking up as much as I could in thirty-three days. I love America. It's been an obsession since I can remember and when I get there, I'm like a kid in a candy store. So...I got to visit beautiful San Francisco for the first time. Tons of movies have been made there and what did I obsess about...The Doris Day Show (I kid you not) and one of the most famous disaster movies of the Seventies, The Towering Inferno. ( I will admit to wanting to obsess about Vertigo but I'll talk about that later)...onto The Towering Inferno.

Going back to the seventies for a moment. The Towering Inferno (in case you didn't know) was a huge release. Huge! It was produced by the Master of Disaster, Irwin Allen, who scored big with The Poseidon Adventure a few years earlier. Inferno, was so big in Australia our local paper even offered a full color poster advertising the movie as a collectible. (Not quite sure where it ended up). The cast of Inferno was a who's-who of Hollywood. It's reported that Steve McQueen and Paul Newman actually had the same amount of dialogue in the movie so neither could be considered the "star". (Ahem, Diva!) Fred Astaire, Jennifer Jones, Faye Dunaway were known to me even as a kid but seeing Mike Lookinland (Bobby Brady) in a role was damn cool. Over the years The Towering Inferno remains an important part of the DVD collection. So when I went to San Francisco I had to go see where it all happened.

The lobby of the Towering Inferno was filmed at the San Francisco Hyatt. I'd planned to visit, but, a few days before my flight to the US, my friend, Randy, had booked a room just so I could have a chance at riding the the glass elevators seen in Inferno. (You need to be a guest to actually use the elevators). To see the glass elevators was one thing, to ride in them, blew me away.

The first glimpse of the Glass Elevator in The Towering Inferno

I got the the Hyatt early and caught the escalator up to the lobby (it's on the second floor) just as Fred Astaire did in the movie. Riding the escalator and seeing everything appear before my eyes was a thrill. It was December and the lobby was decorated for the holidays and what they did with L.E.D lighting blew me away.

Fred Astaire arriving in the lobby.

In reality I was at the Hyatt but I knew where I really was, I was inside The Towering Inferno lobby. I turned and saw the elevators. I was in heaven. They were mesmerizing. I found a seat, sat down and just watched in awe. The elevators are also in another favorite movie, Mel Brooks, High Anxiety. It was so cool to be there. Randy came down and said, "let's go for a ride" at that point there has never been a happier tourist in San Francisco. I was on my best behavior, (although secretly I wanted to do a Jennifer Jones impression). I got to ride the elevators a few times, okay, I refused to get out.

The Jennifer Jones impression I secretly wanted to do

The elevators today..still going strong

In the movie, you only see one, however, there are five merrily going up and down taking guests to their room. They even had red and green lighting to help celebrate the holidays.

If you go to San Francisco go to the Hyatt, have a coffee and watch the elevators while humming, We May Never Love Like This This Again. It's just too cool!


Anonymous said...

I did the same thing at the Hyatt! Oh those elevators are just magical, floating on the air! How amazing would it be if they went outside to the top of a building, 1000 feet in the air??

Anonymous said...

Great post. Next time you come to SF you should take a walk over to the BofA building on California and Montgomery. All of the the exterior ground floor plaza sequences were shot there. Including:

Fred Astaire's arrival.
Steve Mcqueen's arrival
Dedication ceremony
And of course the whole aftermath ending sequence among many others.

spacepotato said...

Thanks. I did go to the Bank of America building. I should probably write about that experience too! :)