7.4/10
24,266
109 user 75 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
Reviews
Popularity
4,702 ( 336)

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

Photos

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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
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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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

The only film that year to be nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars. See more »

Goofs

In the introduction to the news, the announcer names Kimberly Wells' segment "California Close-Up" but the anchorman calls it "California Now." See more »

Quotes

Dr. Lowell: [reviewing the film footage that Richard had secretly taken while at the nuclear power plant during the emergency] It looks serious. In the control room, these lights are concerned with core water level. They might have come close to exposing the core. If that's true, we came very close to the China Syndrome.
Kimberly Wells: The what?
Dr. Lowell: If the core is exposed, the fuel heats up in a matter of minutes. Nothing stops it. It melts through the ground, theoretically to China. But when it hits ground water, it explodes...
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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

About the media as much as nuclear power
25 November 1998 | by jem-16See all my reviews

Centrally focused on the nuclear power industry, James Bridges's film contains a subtext indicting the news media, particularly television. His story leaves no room to doubt that there is a nexus between the moguls of the two industries which influences the way stories are, first, treated and, secondly, presented.

He may exaggerate to make his point, but he makes it so prominent that its place cannot be overlooked in examining the whole of the film.

Bridges also knows Hitchcock's trick of frustrating the audience with the passage of time. When Kimberly's crew is waiting at a public hearing for Jack to arrive with evidence, the performance of the enviro-protesters with their neat clothes, neat black gags and silent protest is as excruciating as nails scraping a blackboard. The audience is more anxious than the characters for an arrival to put an end to it.


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