UC Berkeley Library

Disaster Films

The Towering Inferno (1974)

Directed by Jack Sher. Cast: Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Susan Blakely, Richard Chamberlain, Jennifer Jones, O.J. Simpson, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner. Elevators turn into crematoria, rooms explode into a living hell, and one by one, avenues of escape disappear. The celebrated opening of the world's tallest skyscraper turns into horrifying disaster as a holocaust leaps up and traps hundreds. A fireman and the building's architect lead the rescue efforts, but the protechnics remain the center of attraction.

Titanic (1953)

Directed by Jean Negulesco. Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Clifton Webb, Robert Wagner, Richard Basehart, Audrey Dalton. Determined to remove her family from the superficial, high-society world in which her husband is engrossed, a woman flees to America along with her children on the R.M.S. Titanic. Learning of her plan her husband buys a steerage ticket in the hopes of reconciling with his family. But when fate steps in, the family faces an unimaginable challenge and the possibility of separation from each other forever.

Titanic (1997)

Directed by James Cameron. Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, Victor Garber, David Warner, Danny Nucci, Suzy Amis, Bernard Fox, Bill Paxton. Two young lovers separated by social class are destined to find each other on the maiden voyage of the "unsinkable" R.M.S. Titanic. But when the doomed luxury liner collides with an iceberg in the frigid North Atlantic, their passionate love affair becomes a thrilling race for survival! 195 min.

Titanic (Germany, 1943)

Directed by Herbert Selpin. Cast: Sybille Schmitz, Hans Nielsen, Kirsten Heiberg, E.F. Furbringer, Karl Schonbock, Charlotte Thiele, Otto Wernicke, Franz Schafheitlin, Sepp Rist. Building the Titanic has been a huge financial effort, and White Star Line president Bruce Ismay wants her maiden voyage to hit the headlines. It is at Ismay's urging that Capt. Edward J. Smith pushes for a record speed in their voyage to New York, and that eventually sows the seeds for later disaster. This Titanic features a number of rich, decadent British passengers and a handful of noble German peasants.

United 93 (2006)

Directed by Paul Greengrass. Cast: Christian Clemenson, Trish Gates, Polly Adams, Cheyenne Jackson, Opal Alladin, Gary Commock, Nancy McDoniel, David Alan Basche, Richard Bekins, Susan Blommaert. Fact-based story about the 40 passengers and crew aboard San Francisco bound flight United 93, who sat down as strangers and found the courage to stand up as one. This hijacked flight was the fourth terrorist attack plane on September 11, 2001.

Volcano (1997)

Directed by Mick Jackson. Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, Gaby Hoffmann, Don Cheadle, Keith David. Something unspeakably chilling is heating up Los Angeles. Beneath the famed La Brea Tar Pits, a raging volcano has formed, raining a storm of deadly fire bombs and an endless tide of white-hot lava upon the stunned city.104 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
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Warning Sign (1985)

Directed by Hal Barwood. Cast: Sam Waterston, Kathleen Quinlan, Yaphet Kotto, Jeffrey De Munn, Richard Dysart. Deep inside a genetic engineering complex in rural Utah, a mysterious toxin has accidentally been unleashed and a top-secret military containment team arrives to quarantine the facility. But for local sheriff Cal Morse, the disaster hits close to home: among the employees still locked inside is his security guard wife, Joanie. Now the contamination is spreading throughout the building, causing its victims to explode in psychotic rage.

When Worlds Collide (1951)

Directed by Rudolph Mate. An empending collision with a runaway star signals the destruction of Earth. Private industrialists finance the building of a space ship which will carry a limited number of people to another planet to begin a new civilization. As doomsday approaches, they race against time and the panic of those who will be left behind. 81 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
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World Trade Center (2006)

Directed by Oliver Stone. Cast: Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Maggie Gyllenhall, Maria Bello, Stephen Dorff, Jay Hernandez, Michael Shannon, Donna Murphy, Frank Whaley. The true story of Port Authority policemen John McLoughlin and William J. Jimeno, who volunteered for rescue duty and became trapped in the rubble of the Towers on September 11, 2001. The men became two of the last survivors extracted from Ground Zero.