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The Great Los Angeles Earthquake (1990)

The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake (original title)
After a series of small tremors in Los Angeles, Dr. Clare Winslow, a local seismologist, pinpoints the exact location and time of when the long awaited earthquake--"The Big One"--will ... See full summary »



(story), (story) | 5 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Anita Parker
Chad Spaulding
David Motubu
Stephen Elliott ...
Dr. Owen Parker
Wendell Cates
Roy Bryant
Silvana Gallardo ...
Larry, the Mayor's City Official Aide
Charles Siebert ...
Mayor Frank Baldwin
Ray Goodrich


After a series of small tremors in Los Angeles, Dr. Clare Winslow, a local seismologist, pinpoints the exact location and time of when the long awaited earthquake--"The Big One"--will strike southern California. With this information, she must battle city officials to release this information to the general public. Also, she hopes that her family is out of harms way when the quake strikes. Subplots show how other families and people cope with the the tremors that strike before the impending "Big One." Written by John R. Price <jprice@olemiss.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


There is no safe harbor, there is no escape... L.A.'s worst fear has just become a reality. See more »


Action | Drama | Thriller


TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

11 November 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Great Los Angeles Earthquake  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


(video) | (original) | (3 episodes)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Following the final scene, a list of US cities threatened by earthquakes is shown. "According to the US Geological Survey, at least 39 states other than California are expected to experience major earthquakes in the future" Some of the cities that will be hardest hit include: Anchorage 9.2 Boston 6.5 Charleston 8.0 Memphis 8.0 New York City 6.5 Portland 9.0 Reno 7.0 St Louis 8.0 Salt Lake City 7.0 Seattle 9.0 "No city is currently as prepared as the city of Los Angeles." See more »


Daniel Motubu is introduced as a potential candidate for Prime Minister of South Africa. That position was abolished in 1984. See more »


Dr. Clare Winslow: Do you think I like predicting the end of the world for hundreds, maybe thousands, of people?
Steve Winslow: Yes, I do.
Dr. Clare Winslow: No!
See more »


Edited into Category 7: The End of the World (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Cheesy but good
3 July 2012 | by See all my reviews

For a made for TV movie this really isn't half bad. I was 8 years old when I first saw this and I remember loving it because of all of the destruction and overall it's still a decent cheesy made for TV movie. At the time there were a lot of movies on TV playing into all of the disasters waiting to happen and this was one of the better ones. The first 2 hours of the movie try's to sound as scientific as possible while slowly building to what we all know is coming and nicely builds suspense. The movie does a good job of showing the daily lives of people in L.A. and what happens to them afterwards. Of course some story lines are nothing more than filler, some stories are cheesy and some are quite good. Overall the acting is believable except for a few bad actors here and there. Most people should recognize the mother from growing pains, the father from the wonder years, Ed Bagley Jr and tons more from the 80s and 90s.

For a made for TV movie I am pleased by how the movie stays away from overt corniness and try's to tell a good story, but there is problems. The movie is 3 hours long, with 2 of those hours leading up the earthquake and 1 hour dealing with the earthquake and after, then it abruptly ends. The movies does a good job of showing the disaster, but there could have been at least another hour dealing with what happens after the quake. It takes 2 hours to get to the quake and then it speeds along and ends.

What can one really expect from a made for TV movie anyways? As long as it entertains that's really the important key to a successful movie. I will say it is a cut above some of the Hollywood disaster movies of the 90's which usually were cheesy and dumb. I wouldn't watch this movie and expect to be blown away, but if you are looking to entertain yourself for awhile then I recommend this movie.

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