The China Syndrome

I was tired and didn’t feel much like going to the movie theatre.  I took out the Blu-ray disc of “The China Syndrome” and watched it.  It seemed funny to me that singing telegrams should be shown as a segment on the local news of a big city like Los Angeles.  Jane Fonda was very good in her role as Kimberley Wells, television news reporter.  There was a touch of age around her eyes that wasn’t there in the days of “Barefoot in the Park.”  Michael Douglas played the cameraman, Richard Adams, who had a touch of Jack Nicholson in him.  I was reminded of this when Douglas put the black capsule in his mouth, which was something like what Nicholson had done in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”  The events in the movie do have some basis in real-life events, and the movie famously was released twelve days before the Three Mile Island incident in 1979.  In light of Fukushima, too, this movie is pretty frightening.  There was a bit of Karen Silkwood in the story as someone with evidence of shoddy inspections was killed in a car accident on his way to a hearing.  Jack Lemmon’s character, Jack Godell, had confronted the inspector and threatened to go to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  I don’t know if a scene like this occurred in real life, but it seems like not a smart thing to do to announce your intentions so plainly if very powerful people can stop you.  Godell should have had a backup plan.  One unusual bit of casting was James Hampton, known as one of the F Troop gang, as a public relations man.  He did show that he could handle a dramatic part, though.  Wilford Brimley looks like he has remained at the same age for about 50 years.  A check of his bio says that he is still alive and is 82.  Godell takes over the power plant control room and demands that he be able to make a statement on television.  The movie does make a point that it’s not so easy to communicate your thoughts across the media.  People sure aren’t accustomed to expressing themselves, which is why they have a fear of making speeches, like Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech.”  If this film were made in 2017, you’d expect the authorities to burst into that control room and overreact with forceful violence towards Godell.  I would say that the ending of the film is not entirely satisfying.  I don’t think that we have confidence that the truth will come out, despite Brimley speaking out and Kimberley giving a tearful summary.  One thing about the opening credit sequence is it shows Kimberley and Adams sharing a bottle of some drink, which displayed camaraderie but the spreading of germs, and it had one of the few uses of music in the film, a theme by Stephen Bishop, who wasn’t the greatest choice.  The movie looked very good on Blu-ray.  I’d say it was a significant improvement over the DVD, except some of the shots of the machinery in the plant, which looked cheaper and more dangerous than what was in Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times.”  This is a movie that is worth watching again if you haven’t seen it in a while.  I thought it was one of Jane Fonda’s best films.  The director was James Bridges, who had previously made “The Paper Chase,” and would go on to work on “Urban Cowboy,” “Mike’s Murder,” “Perfect,” and “Bright Lights, Big City.”  He was only 57 when he died of kidney failure in 1993.  Some of the people who died on March 30 include James Cagney (1986), Fred Korematsu (2005), Dith Pran (2008), Jaime Escalante (2010), and Phil Ramone (2013).  Today is a birthday for Norah Jones (38), Tracy Chapman (53), Eric Clapton (53), and Warren Beatty (80).

This entry was posted in Movies. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s