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The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake (1990)

Not Rated | | Drama | TV Movie 11 November 1990
After a series of small tremors in Los Angeles, Dr. Clare Winslow, a local seismologist, pinpoints the exact location and time of when the long awaited earthquake--"The Big One"--will ... See full summary »



(story), (story) | 5 more credits »

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1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Clare Winslow
Steve Winslow
Anita Parker
Laurie Parker
Chad Spaulding
Heather Winslow
David Motubu
Stephen Elliott ...
Warren Cates
Roy Bryant
Silvana Gallardo ...
Larry, the Mayor's City Official Aide
Charles Siebert ...
Mayor Frank Baldwin
Ray Goodrich


After a series of small tremors in Los Angeles, Dr. Clare Winslow, a local seismologist, pinpoints the exact location and time of when the long awaited earthquake--"The Big One"--will strike southern California. With this information, she must battle city officials to release this information to the general public. Also, she hopes that her family is out of harms way when the quake strikes. Subplots show how other families and people cope with the the tremors that strike before the impending "Big One." Written by John R. Price <jprice@olemiss.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


There is no safe harbor, there is no escape... L.A.'s worst fear has just become a reality. See more »




Not Rated




Release Date:

11 November 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Great Los Angeles Earthquake  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(video) | (original) | (3 episodes)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Following the final scene, a list of US cities threatened by earthquakes is shown. "According to the US Geological Survey, at least 39 states other than California are expected to experience major earthquakes in the future" Some of the cities that will be hardest hit include: Anchorage 9.2 Boston 6.5 Charleston 8.0 Memphis 8.0 New York City 6.5 Portland 9.0 Reno 7.0 St Louis 8.0 Salt Lake City 7.0 Seattle 9.0 "No city is currently as prepared as the city of Los Angeles." See more »


Daniel Motubu is introduced as a potential candidate for Prime Minister of South Africa. That position was abolished in 1984. See more »


[last lines]
Todd Harris: Kevin Conrad? Kevin Conrad? This is Tom Harris? Can you hear me? I'm sorry. It seems we have lost our connection with Los Angeles.
See more »


Featured in Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Chilling disaster epic
22 June 2000 | by (Chicago, Illinois) – See all my reviews

"The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake" is a chilling, well-made disaster film that was made-for-TV and aired on NBC back in the fall of 1990 as a two-part movie. Joanna Kerns (star of TV's "Growing Pains") stars as a seismologist who worries that the earthquake of the title is going to strike Los Angeles. But before she can make her prediction, she crosses paths with her family members, co-workers, and city officials. The movie is long at times (this review is based on the entire four hour movie that ran when it premiered on NBC, not the shortened home video version) but it kept me interested and entertained through its entire four hours. The second time the movie aired on NBC they cut an hour of footage and shortened it to a three hour film. That version was pretty good too. But then I saw the home video version with half the movie gone. This is the version to forget about. Stick with either the three hour version or the full-length four hour version if you can find it on TV.

The three and four hour versions: *** (out of four)

The home video version: ** (out of four)

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