7.4/10
21,806
102 user 60 critic

The China Syndrome (1979)

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

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ON DISC
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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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:

An Element Of Risk  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The picture was nominated for the prestigious Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) at the Cannes Film Festival in 1979. The movie was also nominated for 4 Academy Awards in 1980 but failed to win an Oscar statuette. The film's three lead actors, have all won Oscars for acting: Michael Douglas for Wall Street (1987) (and as a producer of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)); Jane Fonda for _Klute_ and Coming Home (1978); and 'Jack Lemmon_ for Mister Roberts (1955) and Save the Tiger (1973). See more »

Goofs

When meeting about what to do with the film the next day, a paper leans against Rich's coffee cup, but is gone a moment later. See more »

Quotes

Jack Godell: What makes you think they're looking for a scapegoat?
Ted Spindler: Tradition.
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Crazy Credits

The end credits run in total silence. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Stardust: The Bette Davis Story (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Somewhere In Between
by Stephen Bishop
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
What can really be said?
21 January 2003 | by (Waco, Texas) – See all my reviews

I normally don't comment on movies on IMDB, but in this case I feel like I should. I love movies, and I want to make them, and this movie is a perfect example of fine filmmaking.

This is one of the few movies that I have seen on the small screen (originally seeing it air on AMC, I believe, and then on the DVD I just watched) that made me get that feeling in the pit of my stomach. That little gnawing sensation that the director would hope you feel while watching his thriller.

Jack Lemmon's performance is a fine one, and Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas follow. I felt so much empathy of Lemmon, who's character Jack Godell, only wanted people to listen to his warning.

But what impresses me most about this film is the lack of a score, and this is also what makes it beautiful to me. Apart from the opening titles there are no background music to increase the tension, because none is needed. And while the credits run, white on black, in silence it drives the point home.

I use the movie as an example to anyone who says music makes the movie. I think the movie should make the movie and the music should only amplify that. But for The China Syndrome music is not necessary to get across the realism and the urgency depicted here. The characters portray all of this far better than the music ever could.

I highly recommend this movie, it is one of my favorites. If you like movies, you won't be disappointed. If you like movie soundtracks more, you might not want to give this one a go.


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