1979, Sony Repertory, 122 min, USA, Dir: James Bridges

The title of this riveting thriller refers to the possibility that a malfunction at a nuclear power plant could cause radioactive material to melt through the floor, “all the way to China.” Bright and ambitious TV reporter Jane Fonda is on assignment with her cameraman Michael Douglas at a Southern California power plant when she learns of an impending control-room crisis involving plant supervisor Jack Lemmon. While the nuclear power industry greeted the film’s premiere with howls of protest, the Three Mile Island accident that followed less than two weeks later gave it a chilling credibility.

2000, Universal, 131 min, USA, Dir: Steven Soderbergh

Oscar winner Julia Roberts is at her very best in the title role of this environmentally conscious biopic. Erin Brockovich was working as a clerk at a Southern California law firm when she discovered that residents of Hinkley, California, were being poisoned by chromium in their water supply. The subsequent class-action lawsuit spearheaded by the single mom against utility Pacific Gas & Electric resulted in a record-breaking settlement. Albert Finney co-stars as Brockovich’s boss, a seasoned attorney initially skeptical about the David vs. Goliath fight. “What's pretty original about the picture is that it focuses an investigative drama based on a true story around a comic performance.” - Amy Taubin, The Village Voice

1932, Warner Bros., 113 min, USA, Dir: Edmund Goulding

Director Edmund Goulding orchestrates a dazzling parade of iconographic stars and intersecting subplots. Ballerina Greta Garbo, aristocrat John Barrymore, secretary Joan Crawford and cutthroat mogul Wallace Beery are just a few of the legends who make their way through this classic ensemble drama, a film whose influence can be seen in later films by Robert Altman and P.T. Anderson, among many others. Cedric Gibbons’ stunning Art Deco art direction gives the players an opulent setting for their personal melodramas.

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