7.4/10
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109 user 71 critic

The China Syndrome (1979)

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

Director:

James Bridges

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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 Ali Khalilah Ali ... Marge
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

Gross USA:

$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

To prepare for his role as a TV cameraman, actor Michael Douglas did the news rounds with various television photographers one of whom was Bob Brown who later died in the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana. See more »

Goofs

Throughout the film, Michael Douglas makes the mistake of pronouncing the word "nuclear" as the incorrect "noo-kyoo-ler". (A mistake he also makes in The Game). See more »

Quotes

Kimberly Wells: [defending her cameraman] He's good, I think he's good. He's won a lot of awards.
Don Jacovich: I'm sure. Hothead award, Foulmouth award, Can-of-worms award...
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Crazy Credits

The end credits run in total silence. See more »


Soundtracks

Somewhere In Between
by Stephen Bishop
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Jack Lemmon's Best
1 February 2009 | by Ric-7See all my reviews

I thoroughly enjoyed this film when it was first released, and on each occasion I've seen it since. The political drama is effective, if not especially new or inspired. The decades since the release of the film have demonstrated that the willingness to cut costs at the expense of public safety is definitely not just something imagined by a screenwriter.

However, I think the most impressive element of this film is Jack Lemmon's performance. It is absolutely astonishing to watch him at work. He has the gift to be able to communicate so much, at times without saying a word. Next time you watch this film, check out Jack's face at the times he is not saying anything. He does not need to speak (or worse yet, to mug) to let you know what's going through his mind.

I am calling this a spoiler, because of the impression it made on me when I first saw the film: in Lemmon's last scene in the film, as he is lying on the floor, he feels a slight vibration. The terror in his eyes is one of the most frightening images I have seen in any film. It is perfect acting, because it conveys instantly the threat about to occur--if Jack's character is so terrified, there is certainly something awful about to happen. And it does.


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