Classic Cinema #28: Soylent Green (1973) – By Jason S. Lockard

I can’t imagine anyone who hasn’t seen this Sci-Fi Classic, but for those who haven’t; I’m not going to give the ending away! Soylent Green takes place in the year 2022… Where people are still the same. They’ll do anything to get what they need. And they need SOYLENT GREEN. With this as a tagline for the film you could be in for anything and we were! In late 60s early 70s Filmmakers began pushing the bounds of science fiction and director Richard Fleischer was among them to!

Ty Thorn (Heston) a Police detective who works in 2022’s New York City. The world has suffered an ecological disaster and with a population explosion. New York Alone has forty million inhabitants. Housing is almost unlivable and homeless sleep on the streets, staircases and fire escapes anyplace they can find. Food such as fresh meat, vegetable and fruit are so exorbitant in price only the wealthy can afford it. So most of the population live on rations known as Soylent Red and Soylent Yellow produced and provided by The Soylent Corporation. When The Corporation announces There newest product Soylent Green made of "high-energy plankton" and that it is more nutritious and palatable than the red and yellow varieties. People are ecstatic, but like most food it is in short supply, which often leads to food riots. Sounds like paradise!

Ty Thorn is assigned to investigate the murder of a wealthy man named William Morris Simonson (Joseph Cotten). He arrives at the crime scene, he finds Simonson lying in a pool of blood from being struck multiple times in the back of the head, but instead of looking for clues, Thorn helps himself to the wealthy man’s food, liquor, shower complete with real hot water and soap and books. He questions Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young), an attractive 24-year old "kept woman" who comes with the apartment, and Simonson’s bodyguard, Tab Fielding (Chuck Connors), who claims that he was told to escort Shirl on a shopping trip when the attack took place, leading Ty to believe something deeper than the murder for food or money.

Ty lives in a dilapidated, cramped one-room apartment with his aged friend and roommate, Sol Roth a former professor played by the great Edward G. Robinson is his 101st and final film. He helps Ty in his investigations by searching through the now-disordered remnants of written records and books. Was the wealthy millionaire’s death simply just a fortune killing, or was their a bigger plan a plan to hide something more notorious than anyone ever dreamed? You’ll have to watch the film to find out!

The screenplay varies from Harry Harrision’s 1966 novel of the name ‘Make Room! Make Room!’ In the novel the year was 1999 not 2022. While the film revolves around Soyent Red, Yellow and Green; the book refers only to "soylent steaks". The book’s title ‘Make Room! Make Room!’ was not used for the movie since producers felt it might confuse audiences thinking it film was a big-screen version of Make Room for Daddy, Danny Thomas’ TV Show.

While it never won an academy award Soylent Green did receive he Nebula Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film in 1973. It leaves an indelible mark on all who see it!

Until next month this is Jason S. Lockard reminding you if you want to see a good film, check out a classic!

Moral Rating: Adult Situations and Mild Language
Audience: Parental Guidance
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 1 hr. 37 min.
Released: 1973
Our Rating: B-