100 user 65 critic

The China Syndrome (1979)

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



Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

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



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Coma (1978)
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When a young female doctor notices an unnatural amount of comas occurring in her hospital she uncovers a horrible conspiracy.

Director: Michael Crichton
Stars: Michael Douglas, Rip Torn, Geneviève Bujold
Klute (1971)
Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A small-town detective searching for a missing man has only one lead: a connection with a New York prostitute.

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Stars: Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Disgusted with criminals escaping the judicial system via technicalities, an idealistic young judge investigates an alternative method for punishing the guilty.

Director: Peter Hyams
Stars: Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook, Yaphet Kotto
Coming Home (1978)
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A woman whose husband is fighting in Vietnam falls in love with another man who suffered a paralyzing combat injury there.

Director: Hal Ashby
Stars: Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, Bruce Dern
Missing (1982)
Drama | History | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

When an idealistic writer disappears during the Right Wing military coup in 1973 Chile, his wife and American businessman father try to find him.

Director: Costa-Gavras
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek, Melanie Mayron
Certificate: M Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The lives of a disparate group of contestants intertwine in an inhumanely grueling dance marathon.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Susannah York
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A romance writer sets off to Colombia to ransom her kidnapped sister, and soon finds herself in the middle of a dangerous adventure.

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Norman is a curmudgeon with an estranged relationship with his daughter Chelsea. At Golden Pond, he and his wife nevertheless agree to care for Billy, the son of Chelsea's new boyfriend, and a most unexpected relationship blooms.

Director: Mark Rydell
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A disillusioned aging decent man and once proud WWII veteran is dealing with midlife crisis as well as a tough moral dilemma. If he wants his small near-bankrupt clothing company to survive, he has two days to let go of his shaken morals.

Director: John G. Avildsen
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Jack Gilford, Laurie Heineman
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A married couple try everything to get each other to leave the house in a vicious divorce battle.

Director: Danny DeVito
Stars: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito
Silkwood (1983)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The story of Karen Silkwood, a metallurgy worker at a plutonium processing plant who was purposefully contaminated, psychologically tortured and possibly murdered to prevent her from exposing blatant worker safety violations at the plant.

Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, Cher
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

This is the sequel to "Romancing the Stone" where Jack and Joan have their yacht and easy life, but are gradually getting bored with each other and this way of life. Joan accepts an ... See full summary »

Director: Lewis Teague
Stars: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito


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


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


People who know the meaning of "The China Syndrome" are scared. Soon _you_ will know. See more »


Drama | Thriller


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 March 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El síndrome de China  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


To prepare for his role as a TV cameraman, actor Michael Douglas did the news rounds with various television photographers one of whom was Bob Brown who later died in the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana. See more »


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 »


Kimberly Wells: [defending her cameraman] He's good, I think he's good. He's won a lot of awards.
Don Jacovich: I'm sure. Hothead award, Foulmouth award, Can-of-worms award...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits run in total silence. See more »


Somewhere In Between
by Stephen Bishop
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Press Censored even in 1979
22 July 2001 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

AS poor and as distorted as the news in the U.S. is today, I find it refreshing that there were cover-ups and 'arrangements' being made over nuclear plants even in the 70's. Having worked on the software for control systems that theoretically control the nuclear plants, I know that any day now, the 'holes in the Swiss cheese slices' will all line up, and boom!!!! No one is taking the time to provide the care in that software that is continually being 'improved' and building like a house of cards. Safety software engineers are paid NOT to care about the quality of the work, but to rubber stamp the specs.

The inspectors they showed there are today even more incompetent and apathetic. As long as they find a few cosmetic problems to bitch about (e.g., coffee cups hiding alarm buttons), they don't peer any further. And of course, they wouldn't examine the X-rays, or know what they were looking for, if they did. The fox is guarding the henhouse in many areas in which we foolishly think we are protected. This movie attempts to unveil that danger, something movies are no longer allowed to do, since they are made by the same Big Business conglomerates that give you the nuclear plants, the Keystone tires, the Ford roll-overs.

Jane Fonda does a fantastic job of playing the innocent ingenue, something that hard-brained tough lady isn't in real life. And of course, Jack Lennon, dear departed, did one fantastic job as the ill-fated conscience of the nuclear plant. Check this one out of the video store....before all the copies are ordered destroyed. (I'm kidding, but not by much.)

Collusion between the information distorters and dispensers AND Big Business is just one of the themes in this movie, but something that's much more prevalent now than then. Well-written, I want to now see, "The Making of the China Syndrome" to find out what was cut out of it, and how much pressure the makers of this movie were under.

Just one thing: The movie Cher was in, in which she's run off the road, was also about a nuclear plant, and a worker who knows the truth about the apathy to safety at high levels of the plant. Which one copied the other?

50 of 86 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Jack's testimony at the first hearing mdgross50
Does anyone know the actual location of the powerplant? ajtaylor82
Nuclear safety Rammu
Any Other Nukes Seen This Movie? tspencer227
Karl Grossman says NRC knew chances of core meltdown in US within 20yrs mickeyone
HELP !!!!!!!!!!! unfabulous36
Discuss The China Syndrome (1979) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page