7.4/10
22,948
109 user 65 critic

The China Syndrome (1979)

A reporter finds what appears to be a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant.

Director:

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Klute (1971)
Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A small-town detective searching for a missing man has only one lead: a connection with a New York prostitute.

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Stars: Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi
Coming Home (1978)
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A woman whose husband is fighting in Vietnam falls in love with another man who suffered a paralyzing combat injury there.

Director: Hal Ashby
Stars: Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, Bruce Dern
Coma (1978)
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When a young female doctor notices an unnatural amount of comas occurring in her hospital she uncovers a horrible conspiracy.

Director: Michael Crichton
Stars: Michael Douglas, Rip Torn, Geneviève Bujold
Certificate: M/PG Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The lives of a disparate group of contestants intertwine in an inhumanely grueling dance marathon.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Susannah York
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Norman is a curmudgeon with an estranged relationship with his daughter Chelsea. At Golden Pond, he and his wife nevertheless agree to care for Billy, the son of Chelsea's new boyfriend, and a most unexpected relationship blooms.

Director: Mark Rydell
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Kimberly Wells
... Jack Godell
... Richard Adams
... Herman De Young
... Bill Gibson
... Don Jacovich
... Ted Spindler
... Evan McCormack
Daniel Valdez ... Hector Salas
Stan Bohrman ... Pete Martin
... Mac Churchill
Michael Alaimo ... Greg Minor
... Dr. Lowell
Khalilah Ali ... Marge
Paul Larson ... D.B. Royce
Edit

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:

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

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 March 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

An Element Of Risk  »

Edit

Box Office

Gross USA:

$51,718,367
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was part of a 1980s cycle of films about atomic bombs and nuclear warfare which had started in 1979 with The China Syndrome (1979). The films included Silkwood (1983), Testament (1983), Threads (1984), WarGames (1983), The Day After (1983), The Atomic Cafe (1982), The Manhattan Project (1986), Whoops Apocalypse (1982), Special Bulletin (1983), Ground Zero (1987), Barefoot Gen (Hadashi no Gen (1983)), Rules of Engagement (1989), When the Wind Blows (1986), Letters from a Dead Man (Pisma myortvogo cheloveka (1986)), Memoirs of a Survivor (1981) and The Chain Reaction (1980). 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

Churchill, Mac: Richard, I want that goddamn film.
Richard Adams: You can kiss my ass!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits run in total silence. See more »


Soundtracks

Somewhere In Between
by Stephen Bishop
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Nuclear nightmare
12 July 2001 | by See all my reviews

When THE CHINA SYNDROME was released, plenty of right-wing critics and pro-nuke supporters blasted this film, particularly since its three leading stars were all known for their liberal politics and their overt distrust of nuclear power. But it only took two weeks and a near-catastrophic accident at Three Mile Island to shut those critics up.

Fonda and Douglas are the L.A. news crew that witness a potentially nasty accident at the Ventana nuclear power plant. Douglas films the event through the plant's soundproof glass; but the TV station will not air the footage, fearing a massive lawsuit. It is thus up to Fonda and Douglas to get at the truth, despite a massive attempt by the plant's owners to cover up the accident.

But a conscientious shift supervisor (Jack Lemmon) has uncovered certain defects in the plant's pump support structure. He believes that these defects were the cause of the accident and that, though it would be extremely costly and lengthy, if repairs aren't made, the next accident could be apocalyptic. But he can't get anyone who works with him to believe his story. The result is a nightmarish climax that pulls various political, technological, and human interest stories together in one disturbing package.

While obviously quite politically liberal in nature, THE CHINA SYNDROME, well directed and co-written by James Bridges (THE PAPER CHASE), is also fundamentally a message movie about the inherent dangers of putting technology and nuclear power together. Fundamentally, nuclear power can NEVER be made safe because people can NEVER be perfect. That is what the film is saying; and in a highly entertaining and suspenseful way, it says it brilliantly.


37 of 57 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 109 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Sci-Fi Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular sci-fi movies and TV shows available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial