Soylent Green

"Good"

Soylent Green Review


Charlton Heston runs down the crowded street shrieking at the top of his lungs, "Soy-LENT green is PUR-PLLLLLE! IHHHT'S PUHHHHR-PLLLLLLE!" All right, that scene does not occur in the actual '70s pulp sci-fi movie -- it was the nifty Saturday Night Live parody where the late Phil Hartman made a mockery of Chuck's hambone line delivery.

Let's pause for a moment and reflect on Charlton Heston's wonderful '70s science fiction career. He had a penchant for wincing his way through angry line deliveries like, "Gehhhht yer STINKING PAWS off me, you DAMN DIRTY APE!" using every wrinkle in his brow, his shark-like teeth gleaming in the sun. Sweat would glisten on his prominent brow and chiseled cheeks. When he dies, we shall say there was an actor.

On to Soylent Green. Before the urban paranoia begins, we're treated to a black and white montage that shows the farmlands of America becoming transformed via an industrial revolution into an overcrowded nightmare. This is accompanied by happy-go-lucky piano trills, which become increasingly discordant as society falls apart. It vaguely reminds me of the "Eleanor Rigby" section of Yellow Submarine.

The overpopulated streets of New York City, all 40 million residents in Soylent Green, are shot through a hazy green filter, which makes everything look as though it were taking a bath in smog. Bodies litter the steps of every brownstone, over which Charlton Heston marches on his way to work every day.

The police are often put on riot duty to squelch the crowds which assemble every Tuesday, which happens to be "Soylent Green" day. Yes, Soylent Green is the wafer-thin food of choice among the masses. The government claims that this mass product has been created in rural factories from plankton extracts -- heh heh heh. If they run out of Soylent Green, the streets become ablaze with angry customers.

Charlton Heston swaggers onto the scene as Detective Thorn, who is casually investigating the murder of a prominent businessman in the Soylent company (played by Joseph Cotton, milking his five minutes of screen time for all they're worth). Mostly, he uses the opportunity to see how the "other half" lives. He's stuck in a crummy apartment with no food, air conditioning or water.

While Cotton's body rests in a puddle of blood, old Chuck Heston raids the fridge and chugs down some of the "real bourbon -- God damn!" He barely has time to interrogate the one and only suspect (evil Chuck Connors) as he stands in front of the air conditioner, gasping and baring those teeth as only Charlton Heston can. He inhales the soap with childlike pleasure and washes his hands -- who needs to search for clues when there's soap!

The plot trudges along with Heston's non-investigation leading him to romancing Cotten's "furniture." That's what they call the women of the future. "Furniture." Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young) is the buxom furniture in question, and she meekly defers to the will of Moses. They make love discreetly off-screen then take a jolly shower together. This is the "Charlton Heston and the Girl Both Laugh" scene. No dialogue. Just "HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!" as they soap themselves up.

It's quite an amusing movie. The plot (based on the book Make Room! Make Room!) noodles around, content to show the world of the future rather than concentrate on any sort of cohesive mission for Heston. Sure enough, Charlton stumbles across the fact that Soylent Green just might have something to do with the murder.

Be forewarned: spoilers ahead. But I think Saturday Night Live dispelled all Soylent Green plot twists a few years ago. The climax of the movie itself is pretty disappointing after Phil Hartman's tour-de-force of running down the street (as it happens, Chuck is dragged away in a stretcher). Those hoping for the equivalent of the classic "DAMN YOU!" finale of Planet of the Apes or the heavy religiosity of The Omega Man.

But (spoilers ahead, last warning!) you can't beat the dialogue: "Soon they'll be breeding us like cattle! You've got to warn EVERYone and tell them! Soylent GREEN is MADE of people! PEEE-O-PLE! You've got to tell them! Soylent green is PEOPLE!"



Soylent Green

Facts and Figures

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 9th May 1973

Distributed by: WARNER BROTHERS PICTURES

Production compaines: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Fresh: 25 Rotten: 10

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer:

Starring: as Detective Robert Thorn, Edward G. Robinson as Sol Roth, as Shirl, as Tab Fielding, as William R. Simonson, as Chief Hatcher, as Martha, Stephen Young as Gilbert, Mike Henry as Kulozik, as The Priest, as Donovan, as Charles, as Gov. Santini, as The Exchange Leader, as Usher #1, John Dennis as Wagner, as Shoe Seller (uncredited)

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.