The China Syndrome

Synopsis: While doing a series of reports on alternative energy sources, an opportunistic reporter Kimberly Wells witnesses an accident at a nuclear power plant. Wells is determined to publicise the incident but soon finds herself entangled in a sinister conspiracy to keep the full impact of the incident a secret.
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Director(s): James Bridges
Production: Columbia Pictures
  Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 11 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
122 min

- Playback, please.

- Five, four, three, two, one.

- Camera two, clear bars.

- Come on, let's hustle up.

Camera two is clear.

- The red hair was a good idea.

- We talked about cutting it.

- What did she say?

- She'll do what we tell her.

- Forty seconds.

- Studio B, this is remote.

We come out tight.

Studio B, this is Kimberly.

How soon do we go live?

Hey, hey, fellas!

Anybody listening to me?

- Is Mac there?

- Mac here. What is it?

We need five minutes before we go on.

How about after the commercial?

Not a chance, Kimberly.

We're coming to you in 40 seconds.

- No! We don't have a cameraman.

- Where's George?

He's taking a leak.

He locked the camera down.

You can't have a 2 and a half minute spot

on a static shot.

Better tell Pete to stretch

because remote's gonna be late.

Stretch, Pete. Slow it down.

Mac, can you start on a tight shot

and pull back to a wide?

Just get George back.


We've got less than a minute.

We're about to go on the air.


You all ready? Everybody ready?

Break a leg!

Do I look okay?

The wind is from the south-southwest

at 5 miles an hour.

Now we switch to Kimberly Wells

for a live mini-cam report.

What did you do on

someone's birthday?

Send a card or flowers?

Boring, huh?

Here's something more imaginative.

What the hell is this?

What the hell is this?

This is one part of a new group

taking L.A. By storm.

"Live Wires", singing telegrams.

There's one for every occasion.

If it's your parents' anniversary,

you could send them an "operagram".

Or maybe your message

can't be expressed in words.

- That's the stuff I want to see.

- Look at this!

Get in tight on the navel.

Oh, mercy!

That is a "bellygram."

- Words cannot express that.

- That's the kind of stuff I like.

- Our ratings have gone up.

- Our research said she'd do well.

Very nice show, Kimberly.

Mac here. Can you hear me?

- Change of schedule.

- Again?

- We're going to Ventana.

- Great!

- Be there at 1:

- What about Richard and Hector?

- They'll pick you up.

- Right, okay.

Can I have a hit? Thanks.

I don't smoke.

It's 12:
40 in Los Angeles...

...temperature is 68 degrees

at the Civic Center.

Here's a new one, on the charts

for the first time this week.

They're here, Mr. Gibson.

Hi, Miss Wells.

Bill Gibson, Public Relations.

- Ventana special, take one.

- Okay, Kimberly, any time.

I'm Kimberly Wells, and I'm here

at the Ventana nuclear power plant.

The dome is called the "containment"

and houses the nuclear fuel.

Today in "Energy in California,"

we focus on nuclear power...

...the transformation of matter

into energy, that experts tell us...

...may be our best shot

at energy selfish sufficient...

- What happened?

- She said "selfish sufficiency."

- "Self-sufficiency."

- Let's keep going.

This simulated uranium is the exact

size of those used in the fuel rods.

This pellet contains more energy

than six carloads of coal.

Twenty million pellets are inside

the reactor vessel, here, at the "core."

Around the core is water,

which is used as a coolant.

Inside here is another set of rods

called the "control rods."

They control the nuclear reaction.

What happens is this:

When the core is activated,

the control rods are lifted out.

The nuclear fuel then sets up a

chain reaction, producing heat.

This boils the water,

that turns the turbine...

...that turns the generator,

that produces electricity.

- That's it.

- That's great.

Let's get a reaction shot

of Kimberly.

- You made it seem simple.

- It is. I'll get your hard hats.

- Can you take us inside?

- That's next.

- All set, Kimbo?

- Oh, my God.

Get rid of my circles, Richard.

- I'll do my best. Let's see.

- Don't you touch my hair.

Reaction shot on William Gibson.

Did you get the pellet?

- It's not cheating too much?

- No, a highly complimentary angle.

Gibson's talking. Very interested.

Steam turns the turbine,

then the sh*t hits the fan.

Come on, Kimbo, hold it together.

Very good.

Uranium, they make bombs out

of that. They didn't mention that.

Wait till you get radiation

all over yourself.

- Those pellets will turn you on.

- Mr. Gibson?

- You got our hats?

- One size fits all.

- Can we film the containment area?

- Not when we're on-line.

- Can I leave my jacket here?

- Fine.

That man really does his job.

Don't blow it for me, Richard.

This is coverage, not controversy.

Be a friend?

This is the turbine room.

Sound rolling.

Ventana Power Plant, take one.

This is a rare chance

to see inside a nuclear power plant.

Right here, you can feel the power.

And power is what it's all about.

This 800 megawatt plant

makes enough electricity...

...for a city of three quarters

of a million people.

We're now 50 feet above the turbine

room on an incredible moving crane.

What is this crane used for?

We use it to transport heavy pieces

of machinery, hundreds of tons.

- I think it'll support us.

- I hope so.

- How many people work here?

- At the present time, 150.

- Can they work in this noise?

- What noise? I don't hear it.

- What?

- This is 80 feet further down.

- Richard? Can you shoot here?

- No way.

Our supervisor, Herman De Young.

Kimberly Wells.

- I recognize you.

- Richard Adams, Hector Salas.

If I can do anything for you,

let me know.

- It's too dark here to film.

- I've got a better idea, anyway.

Rate this script:3.0 / 2 votes

Mike Gray

Harold Michael "Mike" Gray (October 26, 1935 – April 30, 2013) was an American writer, screenwriter, cinematographer, film producer and director. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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