The China Syndrome is a moderately compelling thriller about the potential perils of nuclear energy, whose major fault is an overweening sense of its own self-importance.

The China Syndrome is a moderately compelling thriller about the potential perils of nuclear energy, whose major fault is an overweening sense of its own self-importance.

Jane Fonda limns a TV anchorwoman stuck in a ‘happy news’ rut, who hires freelance cameraman Michael Douglas for a series on energy that she hopes will break her into the world of hard news.

While filming at a nuclear energy plant, they witness a control room crisis involving supervisor Jack Lemmon, which is surreptitiously lensed by Douglas. The resulting footage becomes a political hot potato, as station manager Peter Donat buckles under pressure from power company exec Richard Herd.

It’s not until the final half-hour of China Syndrome that its promise catches up to its punch, and the wind-up packs a solid wallop.

1979: Nominations: Best Actor (Jack Lemmon), Actress (Jane Fonda), Original Screenplay, Art Direction

The China Syndrome

Production

Columbia. Director James Bridges; Producer Michael Douglas; Screenplay Mike Gray, T.S. Cook, James Bridges; Camera James Crabe; Editor David Rawlins; Music [none];; Art Director George Jenkins

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1979. Running time: 122 MIN.

With

Jane Fonda Jack Lemmon Michael Douglas Scott Brady James Hampton Peter Donat

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more