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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
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:

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:

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

Star Jack Lemmon said of this film: "I signed on for 'The China Syndrome' and then waited over a year for filming to begin. Not only did I get a marvelous role but I had the satisfaction of being part of a film project that deals with a very dramatic subject, and it makes for a very dramatic movie." See more »

Goofs

Michael Douglas's cameraman more than once supposedly films something - including the footage of the reactor control room - without having a battery pack connected to the camera. The camera simply wouldn't work without it. He also frequently uses the light meter incorrectly - the white dome has to be pointed towards the light source you are measuring. See more »

Quotes

Richard Adams: I showed the film to a nuclear engineer. You almost uncovered the core, Mr. Godell.
Kimberly Wells: Mr. Godell, you lied to me last night. We're not going to leave here until you tell us what happened at the plant.
Jack Godell: So some anti-nuclear nut tells you we almost uncovered the core? But we didn't uncover it, did we? We stopped it in time for one simple reason and I told you that! The system works, goddamn it! The system works! That's not the problem!
[he turns away]
Richard Adams: If that's not the problem, then what the hell is?
Jack Godell: [...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits run in total silence. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Men in Black II (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Somewhere In Between
by Stephen Bishop
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Underrated Thriller
8 February 2016 | by keachsSee all my reviews

Wow. Not sure why this thriller has so few rating in IMDb. (Actually not so unusual for any non-blockbusters from this era) Almost every aspect of the film is rock solid: setting script, acting, story-line, and the issue is still relevant 35 years later. The characters and scenes in the studio and nuclear power plant are totally believable. There no superfluous scenes at all, no added sex scenes, no smart alack comedy or in-your face scenes. Jack Lemmon in my opinion is also very underrated and gives a great performance as Jack Godell, and Jane Fonda and Michael Douglass are very good in their respective roles. I had not realized that Michael Douglass produced this film, along with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest four years earlier when he was barely 30 years old. Though some of the costuming and settings obviously reflect the era of the film, it does not feel dated at all. The China Syndrome holds it's own with the other more well-known films of it's day and probably surpasses in quality, the majority current releases put out by Hollywood.


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