Soylent Green (1973)

soylent green poster 1973 movie charlton heston
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Edward G. Robinson, interesting visuals

So-so story with a good ending

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Soylent Green

Studio:   MGM

Genre(s):   Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):   April 19, 1973

MPAA Rating:   PG

soylent green dump trucks people

Sure this works until the garbage men go on strike

It is 2022 and the Earth is past its breaking point.  Overpopulation has created pollution, housing shortages, and a lack of food.  Detective Frank Thorn (Charlton Heston) is employed in the New York City police force and makes an average living.  He shares a small apartment with Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson) and works everything from murder investigations to riot squads.  When he is called in to investigate the murder of one of the Soylent board of directors, he uncovers a deeper conspiracy.  Frank finds himself in love with the director’s “furniture” Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young) and followed by the director’s assistant Tab (Chuck Connors)…Frank is out to find why the man was murdered and the truth could be destructive.

Directed by Richard Fleischer, Soylent Green is a sci-fi action-adventure.  The movie was loosely based on the 1966 Harry Harrison novel Make Room! Make Room! (the name was changed to avoid confusion with Make Room for Daddy).  It was met with mixed to positive reviews.

Out of duty, a *******Spoiler Alert******* exists for the movie, but the film’s “secret” is also one of the worst kept secrets of all time.  The classic “punchline” of the film has become a joke in itself…but even with the knowledge of what Soylent Green is, Soylent Green does have its moments.

soylent green assisted suicide edward g robinson final film

Is it wrong to actually want to go like this?

The movie’s plot is a bit flimsy.  It is primarily building up to the twist and despite a relatively short runtime, it feels rather long.  What is interesting about the story is decisions made by humanity about the future.  The decision not to limit population growth, the pollution, the rich-vs-poor, women as literal items, and of course, the food solution all explored with interesting comparisons to today.  The classic assisted suicide scene also does have a strange beauty to it…and I bet many people would choose something like it when compared to dying old and unable to function.

Charlton Heston is at his Charlton Heston best.  He chews up the scenes and blast people with his bombastic overacting…but like many of his movies from the period, it somehow works.  Leigh Taylor-Young’s servant-sex slave character is unfortunately as underdeveloped as her nickname of “furniture” implies.  Chuck Connors who can be menacing at points is underused, but the real scene stealer is Edward G. Robinson in his final role.  His death scene steals the movie and occurred not long before his real death in 1973.

soylent green is people charlton heston

Soylent Green is______!!!!!

The movie looks strong at points and bad at other points.  I love scenes like the dump trucks scooping up living people in riot and (as mentioned), the death scene for Robinson’s character is done with great beauty.  Unfortunately, the movie is loaded with some cheesy, generic post-apocalyptic sets and often has a bad green “smog” filter over the shots…which looks like a filter instead of pollution.

Soylent Green is…PEOPLE!!! Yes, it has to be said, but at points Soylent Green is more.  Despite over the top recalling of the line, the line is somewhat subdued in the film and the film ends abruptly after it is said…implying that Frank probably didn’t change anything.  If nothing else, the movie left us with a great line and some decent acting by an actor at the end of his days.  Pour yourself a nice bowl of Soylent Green and have a good day.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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