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The China Syndrome Details

FULL SYNOPSIS

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. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi

Awards

Awarded by
Nominee
Category
Year
Status
British Academy of Film and Television Arts James Bridges Best Picture 1979 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association James Bridges Best Director 1979 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association James Bridges Best Screenplay 1979 Nominee
Directors Guild of America James Bridges Best Director 1979 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences James Bridges Best Original Screenplay 1979 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Jane Fonda Best Actress 1979 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Jane Fonda Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama 1979 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Jane Fonda Best Actress 1979 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Jack Lemmon Best Actor 1979 Winner
Cannes Film Festival Jack Lemmon Best Actor 1979 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Jack Lemmon Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama 1979 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Jack Lemmon Best Actor 1979 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Mike Gray Best Screenplay 1979 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Mike Gray Best Original Screenplay 1979 Nominee

Cast

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

Crew

James Bridges
Director
Michael Douglas
Producer
Bruce Gilbert
Producer
Mike Gray
Screenwriter
James Bridges
Screenwriter
David Rawlins
Editor
Rick Carter
Production Designer
Bruce Gilbert
Executive Producer
Willie D. Burton
Sound/Sound Designer
Kim Kurumada
First Assistant Director
Sally Dennison
Casting
Don Schoenfeld
Makeup
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