China Syndrome

China Syndrome

Director: James Bridges Cast: Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Michael Douglas


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This gripping 1979 drama about the dangers of nuclear power carried an extra jolt when a real-life accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania occurred just weeks after the film opened. Kimberly Wells (Jane Fonda) is a TV reporter trying to advance from fluff pieces to harder news. Wells and cameraman Richard Adams (Michael Douglas, who also produced) are doing a story on energy when they happen to witness a near-meltdown at a local nuclear plant, averted only by quick-thinking engineer Jack Godell (Jack Lemmon). While Wells and Adams fruitlessly attempt to get the story on their station, Godell begins his own investigation and discovers that corporate greed and cost-trimming have led to potentially deadly faults in the plant's construction. He provides evidence of the faulty equipment, which could lead to another meltdown (the "China syndrome" of the title), to the station's soundman to deliver to Wells and Adams at a hearing on nuclear power. However, on the way to the hearing, the soundman is run off the road by evil henchmen, leading Godell to realize that his own life is threatened, possibly by his bosses at the plant. Driven to the edge of a breakdown, Godell takes over the plant's control room at gunpoint and demands to reveal his findings on TV. The plant's management, however, has other plans, and the facility itself is becoming dangerously unstable. Whether or not you agree with the film's clear anti-nuclear bias, its sobering message and riveting, realistic story and performances are still difficult to ignore.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/20/2013
UPC: 0014381860627
Original Release: 1979
Rating: PG
Source: Image Entertainment
Region Code: 1
Time: 2:02:00
Sales rank: 16,056

Special Features

Closed Caption; Two exclusive documentaries featuring interviews with stars Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas; Deleted scenes; Filmographies

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jane Fonda Kimberly Wells
Jack Lemmon Jack Godell
Michael Douglas Richard Adams
Scott Brady Herman De Young
James Hampton Bill Gibson
Wilford Brimley Ted Spindler
Peter Donat Don Jacovich
Richard Herd Evan McCormack
Daniel Valdez Hector Salas
Stan Bohrman Peter Martin
James Karen Mac Churchill
Dan Lewk Donny
Paul Larson D.B. Royce
Michael Alaimo Greg Minor
Donald Hotton Dr. Lowell
Ron Lombard Barney
Michael Mann TV Consultant
Frank Cavestani News Reporter
E. Hampton Beagle Mort
Lewis Arquette Hatcher
Dennis McMullen Robertson
Rita Taggart Rita Jacovich
James Hall Harmon
Betty Harford Woman at Demonstration
Donald Bishop Hearings Chairman
Darrell Larson Young Demonstrator
Roger Pancake Gate Guard
Joe Lowry Security Agent
James Kline Jim
Alan Beckwith Technician
Clay Hodges SWAT Squad Leader
Nick Pellegrino Borden

Technical Credits
James Bridges Director,Screenwriter
Bernadine M. Anderson Makeup
Willie D. Burton Sound/Sound Designer
Rick Carter Production Designer
T.S. Cook Screenwriter
James A. Crabe Cinematographer
Sally Dennison Casting
Donfeld Costumes/Costume Designer
Michael Douglas Producer
Bruce Gilbert Executive Producer
Mike Gray Screenwriter
George Jenkins Production Designer
Kim Kurumada Asst. Director
Henry Millar Special Effects
James Nelson Associate Producer
Arthur Jeph Parker Set Decoration/Design
David Rawlins Editor
Don Schoenfeld Makeup

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The China Syndrome
1. Star
2. Ventana Power Plant
3. Not a Drill
4. A Felony
5. Committee Report
6. At the Party
7. Preliminary Report
8. A Drink at Harmon's
9. The Leak
10. The Safety Hearing
11. Kimberly's Noon Spot
12. Room E309
13. The China Syndrome
14. A Serious Problem
15. Getting Back On Line
16. Mr. Royce
17. Explaining the Problem
18. The Hand-Off
19. The NRC Hearings
20. Hector is Delayed
21. Asking Jack to Testify
22. Eluding Security
23. Jack Takes Control
24. Media and SWAT Arrive
25. Special Bulletin
26. Situation Resolved
27. An Event
28. Interviewing Ted

Customer Reviews

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China Syndrome 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
"The China Syndrome" is a terrifically exciting, brilliantly directed film that sweats suspense. The suspense here makes "North By Northwest" look like a picnic. Will the atomic plant blow up? Will Fonda and Douglas save the day? The tense screenplay has you holding on to your seat belts at all times. Jane Fonda is absolutely electric as the ambitious Los Angeles reporter Kimberly Wells, while Jack Lemmon as plant foreman Jack Godell, in his best role since "The Apartment", captures the full anguish of the tormented technician. Terrifying as it is, the film is much more than a thriller. It's a film full of urgency that cannot be dismissed. Power is what it's all about. One of the most controversial and often debated issues of the decade was whether or not the convenience and efficiency of the nation's nuclear power plants were worth the obvious risks they entailed. Curiously, however, the Seventies managed to produce only one feature film dealing with the subject, "The China Syndrome", an excellent, thought-provoking "doomsday" thriller that became the first major screen success of 1979. The film, a big-budget, major-studio production directed by James Bridges that featured Fonda, Lemmon and Michael Douglas in perhaps their finest roles in the decade, involved a full three years of preparation before it was finally released to theaters. Michael Douglas, who produced as well as starred in the film as photographer Richard Adams, his first production since "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" {1975), had for many years been fascinated by the idea of making a picture about a nuclear accident, but in the project's early stages he had a great deal of trouble finding someone willing to finance such an enterprise. Most of the companies and individuals Douglas approached felt that a film dealing with a nuclear mishap would be too disturbing to attract a large audience. Of course, when the picture was eventually made and released, it became an immediate hit, and somewhat ironically an accident nearly identical to that in the movie occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania two weeks after "The China Syndrome" had its premiere. As a result, the film became more significant and hard-hitting than Douglas ever dreamed possible. Three Mile Island benefited not only the picture, but the credibility of leading lady Fonda who also co-produced. Cover stories in "Time" and "Newsweek" prominently tied "The China Syndrome" in with the whole nuclear issue, and of course, the actress shortly waged a national campaign against nuclear power plants. [filmfactsman]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago