The China Syndrome

The China Syndrome

Early encouragement from Lee Strasberg and The Actors Studio had inspired Jane Fonda, a Studio member, to pursue a performing career after dropping out of college in the 1950s, and by the late 1970s she was a top box-office star with two Best Actress Oscars to her name. In The China Syndrome, she plays Kimberly Wells, a TV reporter who discovers evidence of a possible crisis at a nuclear plant, with the help of plant employee Jack Godell (Jack Lemmon) and her cameraman (Michael Douglas, who also produced). Directed and co-written by James Bridges, the tense thriller daringly featured no background score and was already on its way to becoming a box-office hit when, 12 days after its release, the Three Mile Island incident put nuclear safety on the front page of every newspaper. The film received nominations for Fonda and Lemmon’s lead performances, Original Screenplay, and Art Direction.

DIRECTOR: James Bridges. WRITTEN BY: Mike Gray, T. S. Cook, James Bridges. CAST: Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Michael Douglas, Peter Donat. 1979. 122 min. USA. Color. English. 35mm.

Oscar® Sundays in August and September honor the 75th anniversary of The Actors Studio.

Academy Museum film programming generously funded by the Richard Roth Foundation.

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