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

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The China Syndrome -- A modern nightmare nearly becomes reality in this timely, tension-filled story about an incident ata nuclear power plant. Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon star.

Overview

User Rating:
7.4/10   20,067 votes »
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Popularity: ?
Up 27% 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:
Had an impact when it was released... and it hasn't lost it over the almost three decades that have passed See more (99 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)
Michael Jeffers ... Board Member (uncredited)
Clyde McLeod ... 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 
 
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)
Jimmy Day .... labor foreman (uncredited)
Roy 'Bucky' Moore .... third assistant property master (uncredited)
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 man (as Marvin Lewis)
Mary McGlone .... sound effects editor
Michael Minkler .... re-recording mixer
Lorane Mitchell .... sound effects editor
Arthur Piantadosi .... re-recording mixer
Samuel C. Crutcher .... assistant sound editor (uncredited)
Robert W. Harris .... cable person (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
Bruce Mattox .... special effects assistant
Henry Millar Jr. .... special effects
 
Visual Effects by
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
Peter Anderson .... visual effects (uncredited)
 
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 (as Bob Isenberg)
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)
John Szajner .... second camera assistant (uncredited)
 
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
Edward Baken .... transportation captain (as Eddie Baken)
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 Stoll)
Richard Thomason .... helicopter pilot
David Arntzen .... production assistant (uncredited)
Blanche Bisbing .... assistant auditor (uncredited)
Dale Bridenbaugh .... nuclear technical advisor: MHB Technical Associates (uncredited)
Ron Eisenman .... first aid (uncredited)
Karina Goodman .... production assistant (uncredited)
Richard Hubbard .... nuclear technical advisor: MHB Technical Associates (uncredited)
Eileen McGuire .... accounting assistant (uncredited)
Gregory Minor .... nuclear technical advisor: MHB Technical Associates (uncredited)
Francesca Rivieri .... assistant to executive producer (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
122 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Metrocolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Argentina:13 | Australia:PG | Canada:PG | Finland:K-12 | Netherlands:AL | Norway:12 (original rating) | Norway:15 (re-rating) | Singapore:PG | Sweden:11 | UK:A (original rating) | UK:PG (video rating) (1986) | USA:PG (MPAA rating: certificate #23436) | West Germany:12

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Because the Three Mile Island accident, which resulted in the release of radioactive steam, occurred just weeks AFTER release of this movie, many people associate the movie with Three Mile Island. However, the potentially FAR more dangerous "Incident at Browns Ferry" (Alabama) happened in 1975, four years earlier, and was caused by a number of construction flaws, operational issues, and safety failures. Brown's Ferry Alabama is more properly the "true" basis of this story. No similar situation happened in California.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: Michael Douglas' character says the film of the accident is 230 feet. Yet when he is running the film through the moviola at the station there can't be more than 40-50 feet on the takeup reel at the end of the footage.See more »
Quotes:
Jack Godell:I know the vibration was not normal.See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
Somewhere In BetweenSee more »

FAQ

Why is the plant gradually being brought back up to full power? Why not just start it out at 100%?
Why wouldn't the nuclear plant supervisors listen to Jack when he tried to point out the problem?
Which came first...the movie 'China Syndrome' or the meltdown at Three Mile Island?
See more »
24 out of 31 people found the following review useful.
Had an impact when it was released... and it hasn't lost it over the almost three decades that have passed, 10 February 2007
Author: Grann-Bach (Grann-Bach@jubii.dk) from Denmark

The first thing you see in this film is a static angle(one which will be repeated later in the film), depicting the chaos going on(unseen to the audience) in a studio that airs news. Soon after, Fonda's character's typical story is shown, in that same angle. Don't let this mislead you; the film is not about a female reporter, a woman struggling to succeed in a male-dominated profession. That is merely a lead-in, a way of starting the film(though it's used later). The actual point to this production is revealed gradually, and the first we see of it is in a deliberately long scene early on. The entire film has that pace; not slow or drawn-out, but deliberate. It's never really fast, even in the few sequences that one would normally expect to be so. This pacing(especially because it seems to slow down further as the plot is revealed, as the disturbing, unsettling nature of the film is unraveled) is strong, almost painful to the viewer. It inspires you to, if it had been possible, jump into the screen, grab the people responsible by the collar and yell at them to *do* something about it, to remedy the situation. Never once did I feel like getting up or even taking my eyes off the screen for a moment. The subject is extremely important to be aware of, and it's handled perfectly here. No over-dramatization(well... very little, anyway), just an accurate presentation of the issue. The direction is astounding. The empathy felt for Lemmon's character is profound. The editing is masterful... one scene near the very end illustrates that perfectly. The editor, judging from his filmography, is vastly underrated. The writing was excellent. The acting was great, in particular by Lemmon, Fonda and Douglas(who also produced it). The lack of a score is perfect; no music is needed to enhance. The ending is sublime and effective. The movie does have a few negative points... among them, some of the dialog is obviously and undeniably mainly exposition, one particular part of the film, whilst dramatic, doesn't seem to mesh with something that follows it. Not everyone will watch the film because of two features of it which are commonly (and rightfully so) attributed to bad movies; the pacing(which can be mistaken as being slow) and the (lack of) score. One could argue that to be a negative thing, as everyone ought to consider the points it presents, but maybe it's better this way; handling the heavy subject with the intelligence and respect(for the topic as well as the viewer)... something like this, maybe it shouldn't be spoon-fed. I was mesmerized with the film, and left very taken aback. I recommend this to anyone who believe themselves strong enough to handle it. 9/10

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The China Syndrome (1979)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Jack's testimony at the first hearing mdgross50
"The system works, THAT'S not the problem!" bg_mog
Nuclear safety Rammu
That's a really good car chase, actually.. ajtaylor82
Does anyone know the actual location of the powerplant? ajtaylor82
Nuclear, Schmuclear! Syxiepoo
See more »

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