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The China Syndrome (1979)

PG  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  16 March 1979 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 18,869 users  
Reviews: 95 user | 63 critic

A reporter finds what appears to be a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant.

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Title: The China Syndrome (1979)

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Scott Brady ...
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Peter Donat ...
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Daniel Valdez ...
Stan Bohrman ...
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Michael Alaimo ...
Donald Hotton ...
Khalilah Ali ...
Paul Larson ...
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Storyline

While doing a series of reports on alternative energy sources, an opportunistic reporter Kimberly Wells witnesses an accident at a nuclear power plant. Wells is determined to publicise the incident but soon finds herself entangled in a sinister conspiracy to keep the full impact of the incident a secret. Written by Dave Jenkins <david.jenkins@smallworld.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Today, only a handful of people know what it means... Soon you will know. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 March 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El síndrome de China  »

Box Office

Gross:

SEK 8,390,477 (Sweden)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Rob Dixon of "Turner Classic Movies" has said of the production of this picture: "The genesis of The China Syndrome (1979) came partly from Jane Fonda's roots as an outspoken political activist. Opposition to nuclear power was a centerpiece of the program of the Campaign for Economic Democracy, founded by Fonda's then-husband, Tom Hayden (one of the original Chicago 7 activists tried for their part in the riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention). IPC Films, the company founded by Fonda and Bruce Gilbert, was scouting around for a script about nuclear power and tried unsuccessfully to buy the rights to the story of Karen Silkwood, a power plant worker who died under mysterious circumstances after discovering safety violations at a facility in Oklahoma. Then they discovered the script for this film by writer Mike Gray, who was originally slated to direct (Gray had attracted some attention as the producer of The Murder of Fred Hampton (1971), a controversial documentary on the late Black Panther). IPC bought into the project with Gilbert as executive producer and actor Michael Douglas, who had established his producer's track record with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), as producer". See more »

Goofs

In the scene where Hector's car is forced over the cliff you can see that the gas tank has been removed when his car stops tumbling. See more »

Quotes

Bill Gibson: Mr. Mc Cormack I can't take responsibility for this.
Evan Mc Cormack: What's your alternative? Let this maniac wash out a billion dollar investment? At least this buys time, it will take the press an hour to get here.
Bill Gibson: I wouldn't count on it.
Evan Mc Cormack: I'm counting on you to take care of the goddamn press. Now you do your job and I'll do mine.
Bill Gibson: Yes sir.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Top Gear: Episode #7.6 (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Somewhere In Between
by Stephen Bishop
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Nuclear nightmare
12 July 2001 | by (San Gabriel, Ca., USA) – See all my reviews

When THE CHINA SYNDROME was released, plenty of right-wing critics and pro-nuke supporters blasted this film, particularly since its three leading stars were all known for their liberal politics and their overt distrust of nuclear power. But it only took two weeks and a near-catastrophic accident at Three Mile Island to shut those critics up.

Fonda and Douglas are the L.A. news crew that witness a potentially nasty accident at the Ventana nuclear power plant. Douglas films the event through the plant's soundproof glass; but the TV station will not air the footage, fearing a massive lawsuit. It is thus up to Fonda and Douglas to get at the truth, despite a massive attempt by the plant's owners to cover up the accident.

But a conscientious shift supervisor (Jack Lemmon) has uncovered certain defects in the plant's pump support structure. He believes that these defects were the cause of the accident and that, though it would be extremely costly and lengthy, if repairs aren't made, the next accident could be apocalyptic. But he can't get anyone who works with him to believe his story. The result is a nightmarish climax that pulls various political, technological, and human interest stories together in one disturbing package.

While obviously quite politically liberal in nature, THE CHINA SYNDROME, well directed and co-written by James Bridges (THE PAPER CHASE), is also fundamentally a message movie about the inherent dangers of putting technology and nuclear power together. Fundamentally, nuclear power can NEVER be made safe because people can NEVER be perfect. That is what the film is saying; and in a highly entertaining and suspenseful way, it says it brilliantly.


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