The China Syndrome (1979)
Absorbing, relevant and pounding drama about the hazards of cold war era nuclear plants. Released seven years prior to the Chernobyl disaster, The China Syndrome demands attention to be drawn to the dangers of not only nuclear power, but allegorically to the long-standing cover-up policy of American politics - a way of thinking that has never focused on the backside of the medal. Filmmaker James Bridges is blatantly liberal and radical, but to harrowing effect. Shooting the film completely without a musical score enhances the alarming effect - both as a thriller and as a drama. It's quiet before the storm all the way through. And a stoutly convinced Jack Lemmon propels our conscience forward with him, opening our eyes gradually as we move on.
On a secondary level, the film is a critical account of the impact of television, and the conflicting but all the same interdependent interests of the two fields is never hidden. This is substantive filmmaking that doesn't care for superficialities - both Bridges and Douglas show a cerebral side to their filmmaking that they arguably never equalled. And Douglas, along with a convincing Wilford Brimley, make up a fine supporting cast.