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The China Syndrome (1979)

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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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Popularity
2,296 ( 2,187)
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

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

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

Michael Small composed a complete musical score for this film, but director James Bridges and the producers of the film did not like it. This is why the film was completely devoid of music except for the song sung by Stephen Bishop at the beginning of the film. In 2009 Intrada Records released and extremely limited (1000 copies) CD of Small's score which sold out in 24 hours. 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

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...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits run in total silence. See more »

Connections

Featured in The 52nd Annual Academy Awards (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

Somewhere In Between
by Stephen Bishop
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Places and people on the verge of meltdown...
22 May 2007 | by Howlin WolfSee all my reviews

All the right elements seemed to conspire here to make this a memorable thriller for years to come. You have the stellar cast - Michael Douglas in an uncharacteristic 'free-spirit' role that pretty much launched his movie career, Fonda playing her typical forthright female doing her bit for womens lib, and Jack Lemmon as assured as ever showing us a man with a crisis of confidence. Give them a hot-button topic about big business being duplicitous, and that's encouraging for a kickoff, but to have life imitating art so soon after is a marketing man's dream.

The script is impressively taut, intelligent but mercifully keeping the jargon to a minimum, and there is a genuine sense of sustained tension brought in play by the director as our three protagonists race to beat the clock. If you like 'whistle blowing' dramas, then this is not quite as good as "The Insider", but the whole thing is more than nervy enough.


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