7.4/10
23,255
110 user 70 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

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

More Like This 

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 Viet Nam 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
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Disgusted with criminals escaping the judicial system via technicalities, an idealistic young judge investigates an alternative method for punishing the guilty.

Director: Peter Hyams
Stars: Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook, Yaphet Kotto
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
Missing (1982)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

When an idealistic American writer disappears during the Chilean coup d'état in September 1973, his wife and father try to find him.

Director: Costa-Gavras
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek, Melanie Mayron
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:
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
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:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 March 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

An Element Of Risk See more »

Edit

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Concurrent with Michael Douglas' activity, Jane Fonda and her partner Bruce Gilbert were at the Columbia Pictures studio in the early stages of developing another story set in the explosive field of power, and its abuses, under the banner of their company, IPC Films, Inc. The basic story of "The China Syndrome" contained many of the elements IPC was seeking. From their own research, Fonda and Gilbert had some specific creative ideas for expanding the scope of the story. 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

Jack Godell: I know the vibration was not normal.
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

 
What can really be said?
21 January 2003 | by LionTamarinSee all my reviews

I normally don't comment on movies on IMDB, but in this case I feel like I should. I love movies, and I want to make them, and this movie is a perfect example of fine filmmaking.

This is one of the few movies that I have seen on the small screen (originally seeing it air on AMC, I believe, and then on the DVD I just watched) that made me get that feeling in the pit of my stomach. That little gnawing sensation that the director would hope you feel while watching his thriller.

Jack Lemmon's performance is a fine one, and Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas follow. I felt so much empathy of Lemmon, who's character Jack Godell, only wanted people to listen to his warning.

But what impresses me most about this film is the lack of a score, and this is also what makes it beautiful to me. Apart from the opening titles there are no background music to increase the tension, because none is needed. And while the credits run, white on black, in silence it drives the point home.

I use the movie as an example to anyone who says music makes the movie. I think the movie should make the movie and the music should only amplify that. But for The China Syndrome music is not necessary to get across the realism and the urgency depicted here. The characters portray all of this far better than the music ever could.

I highly recommend this movie, it is one of my favorites. If you like movies, you won't be disappointed. If you like movie soundtracks more, you might not want to give this one a go.


91 of 101 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 110 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed