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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

Cast overview, first billed only:
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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

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

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

16 March 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El síndrome de China  »

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(Metrocolor)

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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 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

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?


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