The China Syndrome

The China Syndrome

James Bridges (1979)

PG Certificate


Our Score
In this genuinely chilling "what if..." thriller, savvy foreman Jack Lemmon just prevents an atomic meltdown at a nuclear power station. The government tries to hush it up, but TV newswoman Jane Fonda (in one of her best performances) and radical cameraman Michael Douglas (who also produced) probe for the truth in a solidly exciting movie that's still packed with political relevance. The cautionary conclusions were given a great deal of credence by life imitating art when the Three Mile Island near-tragedy occurred a few weeks after the movie opened. Oscar-nominated Lemmon is devastatingly good as the loyal employee who slowly realises his superiors are playing fast and loose with the facts. Note the complete lack of background music - Douglas felt music would trivialise the events.


A nuclear power plant controller discovers a potentially disastrous operational flaw but refuses to report it. A visiting TV journalist and cameraman pick up on the story - but as they struggle to get the news on air, a quick-witted engineer realises the danger is far more pronounced than anyone suspects. Thriller, starring Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas, Jack Lemmon and Scott Brady.

Cast & Crew

Kimberly Wells Jane Fonda
Jack Godell Jack Lemmon
Richard Adams Michael Douglas
Herman De Young Scott Brady
Bill Gibson James Hampton
Don Jacovich Peter Donat
Ted Spindler Wilford Brimley
Evan McCormack Richard Herd
Director James Bridges
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: Columbia-Emi-Warner Dists LtdGuidance: Edited for violence and language.Available on: video and DVD