IMDb > The China Syndrome (1979)
The China Syndrome
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The China Syndrome (1979) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
7.4/10   17,918 votes »
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Up 16% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Mike Gray (written by) &
T.S. Cook (written by) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The China Syndrome on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
16 March 1979 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Today, only a handful of people know what it means... Soon you will know. See more »
Plot:
A reporter finds what appears to be a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Awards:
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 11 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Still Relevant After (Nearly) 25 Years See more (92 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Jane Fonda ... Kimberly Wells

Jack Lemmon ... Jack Godell

Michael Douglas ... Richard Adams
Scott Brady ... Herman De Young

James Hampton ... Bill Gibson
Peter Donat ... Don Jacovich

Wilford Brimley ... Ted Spindler

Richard Herd ... Evan McCormack
Daniel Valdez ... Hector Salas
Stan Bohrman ... Pete Martin

James Karen ... Mac Churchill
Michael Alaimo ... Greg Minor
Donald Hotton ... Dr. Lowell
Khalilah Ali ... Marge
Paul Larson ... D.B. Royce
Ron Lombard ... Barney
Tom Eure ... Tommy

Nick Pellegrino ... Borden
Daniel Lewk ... Donny
Allan Chinn ... Holt
Martin Fiscoe ... Control Guard
Alan Kaul ... TV Director
Michael Mann ... TV Consultant
David Eisenbise ... Technical Director
Frank Cavestani ... News Reporter
Reuben Collins ... Sportscaster
E. Hampton Beagle ... Mort
David Pfeiffer ... David

Lewis Arquette ... Hatcher
Dennis McMullen ... Robertson
Rita Taggart ... Rita Jacovich
James Hall ... Harmon

Carol Schlanger ... Waitress (as Carol Helvey)
Trudy Lane ... Alma Spindler
Jack Smith Jr. ... Tom
David Arnsen ... KXLA Cameraman
Betty Harford ... Woman at Demonstration
Donald Bishop ... Hearings Chairman
Al Baietti ... Pro-Nuclear Witness
Diandra Morrell ... Sasha
Darrell Larson ... Young Demonstrator
Roger Pancake ... Gate Guard
Joe Lowry ... Security Agent
Harry M. Williams ... Fire Rescue
Dennis Barker ... Jaws of Life
Joseph Garcia ... Highway Patrolman
James Kline ... Jim
Alan Beckwith ... Technician
Clay Hodges ... SWAT Squad Leader
Val Clenard ... Val Clenard
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Peter Paul Eastman ... Reporter (uncredited)
Robert S. Woods ... (uncredited)

Directed by
James Bridges 
 
Writing credits
Mike Gray (written by) &
T.S. Cook (written by) and
James Bridges (written by)

Produced by
Michael Douglas .... producer
James M. Falkinburg .... associate producer (as James Nelson)
Bruce Gilbert .... executive producer
Penny McCarthy .... assistant producer
Jack Smith Jr. .... assistant producer
 
Cinematography by
James Crabe (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
David Rawlins (edited by)
 
Casting by
Sally Dennison 
 
Production Design by
George Jenkins 
 
Set Decoration by
Arthur Jeph Parker 
 
Costume Design by
Donfeld 
 
Makeup Department
Bernadine M. Anderson .... makeup artist: Ms. Fonda (as Bernadine Anderson)
Kaye Pownall .... hairstylist (as Kay Pownall)
Don Schoenfeld .... makeup artist
 
Production Management
James M. Falkinburg .... unit production manager (as James Nelson)
James A. Dennett .... production manager (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Kim Kurumada .... first assistant director
Barrie M. Osborne .... second assistant director (as Barrie Osborne)
Joel Chernoff .... second unit director (uncredited)
 
Art Department
Rafael Caro .... art department staff
Rick Carter .... art department staff (as Richard Carter Jr.)
Joseph Hurley .... art department staff (as Joe Hurley)
Terry E. Lewis .... property master (as Terry Lewis)
William Maldonado .... construction coordinator
Richard McKenzie .... art department staff
Rudy Reachi .... assistant prop man
Ray Villalobos Sr. .... paint foreman (as Reynaldo Villalobos)
R. Chris Westlund .... lead man (as Chris Westlund)
S. Bruce Wineinger .... construction foreman (as Bruce Wineinger)
William Ladd Skinner .... set designer (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Fred J. Brown .... sound effects editor (as Fred Brown)
Willie D. Burton .... sound mixer (as Willie Burton)
Gene Corso .... sound effects editor
Les Fresholtz .... re-recording mixer (as Lester Fresholtz)
Marvin E. Lewis .... boom operator (as Marvin Lewis)
Mary McGlone .... sound effects editor
Michael Minkler .... sound re-recording mixer
Lorane Mitchell .... sound effects editor
Arthur Piantadosi .... re-recording mixer
Samuel C. Crutcher .... assistant sound editor (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
Bruce Mattox .... special effects assistant
Henry Millar Jr. .... special effects
 
Visual Effects by
Peter Anderson .... visual effects
Richard Edlund .... miniature photography
Michael L. Fink .... electronic consultant (as Mike Fink)
Richard E. Hollander .... electronic consultant (as Richard Hollander)
James F. Liles .... special photographic effects
Matthew Yuricich .... matte paintings
Stuart Ziff .... electronic effects
 
Stunts
Bob Harris .... stunt coordinator (as Bobby Harris)
Carey Loftin .... stunt coordinator
Hubie Kerns Jr. .... stunt driver (uncredited)
Bryce Guy Williams .... stunt double: Jack Lemmon (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
James O. Blair .... gaffer (as James Blair)
Robert Duggan .... best boy grip
Robert Isenberg .... camera assistant
Hal Landaker .... video consultant
Tom Prophet Jr. .... key grip
Daryl Smith .... best boy electric
Peter Sorel .... still photographer
Mike Sweeten .... camera operator
Reynaldo Villalobos .... second camera (as Ray Villalobos)
 
Casting Department
Stanzi Stokes .... assistant casting (as Stanzi Foster)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Aggie Guerard Rodgers .... costumer: ladies (as Agnes Rodgers)
Eddie Marks .... costumer: men (as Edward Marks)
 
Editorial Department
Francesca Emerson .... assistant editor
 
Music Department
Jim Henrikson .... music editor
Francesca Emerson .... assistant music editor (uncredited)
Dan Wallin .... score mixer (uncredited)
 
Transportation Department
Eddie Baken .... transportation captain
Craig Pinkard .... transportation coordinator
 
Other crew
Marty P. Ewing .... production assistant (as Marty Ewing)
Debbie Getlin .... assistant: Mr. Bridges (as Deborah Getlin)
Richard Holley .... helicopter pilot (as Rick Holley)
Alan Kaul .... technical advisor: news
Ronnie Kramer .... production secretary
Doe Mayer .... video sequences designer
Ramon Pahoyo .... craft service (as Ramone Pahoyo)
Eileen Peterson .... publicist
Ken Ryan .... production auditor (as Kenneth Ryan)
Marshall Schlom .... script supervisor
Gayle Simon .... researcher
Teddy Stewart .... researcher
Douglas E. Stoll .... location manager (as Douglas Stall)
Richard Thomason .... helicopter pilot
 
Crew verified as complete


Production Companies
  • IPC Films (as A Michael Douglas/IPC Films Production/A James Bridges Film)
DistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
122 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Metrocolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Company:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The first script for the film was written in the mid-1970 Michael Douglas initially wanted to produce this film immediately after One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). Jack Lemmon agreed to play his role as early as 1976. Douglas was enormously grateful to Lemmon as he remained ready to start work at very short notice for over a year before production started and in the process cost himself a lot of other work. To return the favor, Douglas amended the shooting schedule to allow Lemmon to attend rehearsals for the Broadway stage play of Tribute (1980) which Lemmon would later star in the film version.See more »
Goofs:
Factual errors: In the United States, there are two main types of commercial power reactors: PWR (Pressurized Water Reactor) and BWR (Boiling Water Reactor). In the scene where Gibson is explaining the basic workings of the plant to Kimberly Wells, the diagram on the board shows the former type, PWR. This is shown by the two loop system in which the water is pumped through the reactor under high pressure to prevent boiling, and then through a steam generator, or boiler, to create steam for the turbine using clean secondary water. In subsequent scenes, the dialog of the characters in the control room seems to suggest that they are dealing with a BWR system, where water is allowed to boil in the reactor vessel and steam is directly piped to the turbine, with no steam generator. Godell is concerned by the high water level in the reactor reaching the steam lines, of which there are none on a PWR reactor vessel. As well, in the action hearing later, the investigator talks about how the operators began cutting off feedwater and releasing steam in order to lower the reactor water level, which would only happen on a BWR.See more »
Quotes:
Ted Spindler:He was not a loony. He was the sanest man I ever knew in my life.See more »
Soundtrack:
Somewhere in BetweenSee more »

FAQ

Which came first... "China Syndrome" or the meltdown at Three Mile Island?
Why wouldn't the nuclear plant supervisors listen to Jack when he tried to point out the problem?
When he's being chased by the men in the blue car, why does Godell go to the plant itself? Why not keep driving and find a safer place or try to lose them?
See more »
46 out of 60 people found the following review useful.
Still Relevant After (Nearly) 25 Years, 2 September 2003
Author: A. Bowdoin Van Riper (abvr) from Georgia, USA

This is *not* a great film about nuclear power. It plays too fast and loose with reality for that--especially in a cringe-inducing scene where two scientists describe the consequences of a reactor accident. The catastrophic damage they describe is (even opponents of nuclear power would agree) a worst-case scenario, not the inevitable result of a breakdown in the reactor cooling system. Three-Mile Island suffered such a breakdown, and the surrounding "area the size of Pennsylvania" remained habitable.

That said, this *is* a great (and surprisingly subtle) film about complex technological systems, how they fail, and how the organizations that manage them go awry. Subtle? Well: 1) Jack Godell, the whiste-blowing hero, is a flawed and self-doubting normal human being rather than a crusader in shining armor; 2) His co-workers at the plant (as opposed to the "suits" they work for) are sympathetic working-class guys who gripe (as does everybody now and then) about burdensome government regulations and the clueless public; 3) The flaws in the plant are subtle, not glaring. The film, in other words, plays a lot fairer than you'd expect given its reputation (and pedigree).

Does this film have a definite whiff of late-70s, post-Watergate America about it? Sure. Does it have a political edge? Yes. For all that, though, it's still (sadly) relevant--our technology, and the people who are supposed to make it work, still fail us. See the movie, then skim the recent (August 2003) report on the Columbia disaster; the more things change. . .

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (92 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The China Syndrome (1979)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Good guys in compacts, bad guys in gas guzzlers kag2
Why did the pump shake so much (spoilers) bradhig
with Japan's nuclear disaster now... kimasabe90035-1
Any Other Nukes Seen This Movie? tspencer227
TV, The News and this movie jgallagher33
How Effective Politically? kag2-1
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