The daughter of a deceased building contractor is determined to complete her father’s last skyscraper despite the odds. [ Steel credits: Dir: Steve Carver/ Lee Majors, Jennifer O’Neill, Art Carney, George Kennedy/ 102 min/ Drama/ Creator as Hero]
“An effective tribute to the courage of those who do this kind of dangerous but vital work.”
Creator-as-hero is the theme here. In particular, Steel gives a good deal of respect to individuals of special building and construction talent.
As the story begins, the tough contractor who has been managing the erection of a new skyscraper dies suddenly in an accidental fall from the half-built structure. His corrupt brother wants the job of completing it; but the contractor’s daughter knows that the brother won’t do the job right, so she decides to finish it herself. The problem is, she’s operating under a short, bank-mandated deadline. If she doesn’t finish it in time, financing will be cut off.
With the help of a shrewd foreman, she assembles the “dream team” of construction, a wild bunch of blue-collar renegades each of whom is the best in his particular building skill. The eccentric, talented workers rise to the occasion, putting up floors in record time. To get the job done, they overcome supply shortages, weather-related problems, corruption and violence on the part of a competing contractor, as well as their own very reasonable fear of heights. In this latter respect especially, this film is an effective tribute to the courage of those who do this kind of dangerous but vital work.
Steel has just the right spirit when it focuses on the actual construction. It’s even a little exciting to watch, particularly the final scene as they complete the top of the building using helicopters to bring in the final pieces. However, in other respects this is just an average quality picture with a distinctive 1970s atmosphere.
Incidentally, in a bizarre twist for this production, stunt man A. J. Bakunas really did die from the fall he took doubling for the contractor character killed off early in the film. Bakunas fell as planned onto an airbag, but the airbag split on impact. The under-construction skyscraper used to make this film eventually became Kincaid Tower, of Lexington, Kentucky.