109 user 63 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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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Daniel Valdez ...
Stan Bohrman ...
Pete Martin
Michael Alaimo ...
Donald Hotton ...
Khalilah Ali ...
Paul Larson ...
D.B. Royce


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


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


Drama | Thriller


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 March 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

An Element Of Risk  »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Executive Producer Bruce Gilbert stated: "Like Coming Home (1978) [which also starred Jane Fonda] this is exactly the kind of film, combining entertainment and awareness, that Jane and I went into partnership to produce. The story is extremely exciting and the characters very real. The situations they move through at the power plant and the television station have been scrupulously researched and re-created. The scariest part about this thriller is its frightening duplication of real life". See more »


When Hector (the sound guy) is being pursued at high speed in his red car, (as he tries to hurriedly get the falsified X-rays to Jane Fonda), after the second bump from the car behind; there is a shot-change to the side of his car. In the reflection in the window of his car we can see a Panavision camera with a roll of movie film on top, filming the scene from a truck. See more »


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 »


Referenced in Command & Conquer: Red Alert (1996) See more »


Somewhere In Between
by Stephen Bishop
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

About the media as much as nuclear power
25 November 1998 | by See all my reviews

Centrally focused on the nuclear power industry, James Bridges's film contains a subtext indicting the news media, particularly television. His story leaves no room to doubt that there is a nexus between the moguls of the two industries which influences the way stories are, first, treated and, secondly, presented.

He may exaggerate to make his point, but he makes it so prominent that its place cannot be overlooked in examining the whole of the film.

Bridges also knows Hitchcock's trick of frustrating the audience with the passage of time. When Kimberly's crew is waiting at a public hearing for Jack to arrive with evidence, the performance of the enviro-protesters with their neat clothes, neat black gags and silent protest is as excruciating as nails scraping a blackboard. The audience is more anxious than the characters for an arrival to put an end to it.

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