7.4/10
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121 user 78 critic

The China Syndrome (1979)

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3:54 | Clip
A reporter finds what appears to be a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant.

Director:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 Daniel Valdez ... Hector Salas
Stan Bohrman Stan Bohrman ... Pete Martin
James Karen ... Mac Churchill
Michael Alaimo Michael Alaimo ... Greg Minor
Donald Hotton ... Dr. Lowell
Khalilah 'Belinda' Ali ... Marge (as Khalilah Ali)
Paul Larson Paul Larson ... D.B. Royce
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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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 March 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Misuse Of Power See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$51,718,367

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$51,718,367
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jane Fonda said of this picture: ''On one level, it's a terrific thriller, like Klute (1971), who won her Best Actress Oscar for her melting performance as the hunted call girl in the 1972 mystery. "But, on a deeper level, 'The China Syndrome' is quite a complex human story about the consequences of choices. Everyone needs a job; almost everyone wants to advance. People are constantly compromised or requested to compromise their ethics in their jobs. I think this is a movie that will speak to a lot of people". See more »

Goofs

As Jack Godell is looking at the sequence of events log on the printer, he calls out "Generator Trip, Full Load Rejection, Turbine Trip". "Reactor scram" can be seen just below these items. The camera pans away from the printout and another operator calls out "Reactor scram". This printout seems to be from a previous take (or has been pre-printed so it does not move during filming), as it contains information on events during the scram that have yet to occur. See more »

Quotes

Bill Gibson: Mr. Mc Cormack I can't take responsibility for this.
Evan Mc Cormack: What's your alternative? Let this maniac wash out a billion dollar investment? At least this buys time, it will take the press an hour to get here.
Bill Gibson: I wouldn't count on it.
Evan Mc Cormack: I'm counting on you to take care of the goddamn press. Now you do your job and I'll do mine.
Bill Gibson: Yes sir.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits run in total silence. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Dynasty: The Iago Syndrome (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Somewhere In Between
by Stephen Bishop
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
I may be wrong, but I'd say you're lucky to be alive.

Ripped from today's headlines! An explosion at a nuclear power plant on Japan's devastated coast made leaking radiation — or even outright meltdown — the central threat menacing a nation just beginning to grasp the scale of a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.

A crew from a local TV station was present when an accident occurred at a nuclear power plant, and the core cam dangerously close to being exposed. Like Japan, this accident was caused by an earthquake. The TV station is trying to hide the story, but the cameraman (Michael Douglas) shows the film he surreptitiously took to experts. Wanting to get out of reporting fluff, Jane Fonda follows up to get the plant expert (Jack Lemmon) to talk.

Fonda is magnificent in this film, and Lemmon shows a whole range of emotion during the accident, and afterward as a man who wants to tell the truth even if it hurts his company.

When a company stands to lose a billion dollar investment, you can be sure that there will be an attempt to murder someone (Daniel Valdez) to keep things quiet.

Lemmon and Fonda were both nominated for Oscars, and probably should have gotten them.

Things depicted in the story have actually occurred in the past (before this film), and it was fascinating to see the reactions of the characters. The writers did a magnificent job, and were also nominated for an Oscar.


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