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On this Day in Movie History, May 9, 1973: Soylent Green is People

If “Soylent Green is people,” what is “pink slime”? How far are we from the reality of a Soylent Green? It was on this day, May 9, 1973, Soylent Green was released to theaters.

Soylent Green, a 1973 American science fiction film overlays the police procedural and science fiction genres as it depicts the investigation into the murder of a wealthy businessman in a dystopian future suffering from pollution, overpopulation, depleted resources, poverty, dying oceans, and a hot climate due to the greenhouse effect. Much of the population survives on processed food rations, including “soylent green”.

Directed by Richard Fleischer, Soylent Green starred Charlton Heston and, in his final film, Edward G. Robinson. Charlton Heston stars as a New York City cop circa 2022 investigating a murder that leads him to a gruesome discovery: Soylent Green, the popular, nutritionally-dense foodstuff, is actually made from human corpses.

The film, which is loosely based upon the 1966 science fiction novel Make Room! Make Room!, by Harry Harrison, won the Nebula Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film in 1973.

“Soylent Green is people!” was the much-quoted last line. In the American crime drama television series Millennium (1996–1999), the main character Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) uses the phrase “Soylent Green is people” as a login to the Millennium Group Database.

A 1993 episode of Saturday Night Live purported that Soylent Green had been made into a franchise, consisting of increasingly unsuccessful cinematic sequels. All clips shown played upon the dramatic final scene of the original film. A clip from the fifth sequel, Soylent Green II, shows Thorn (played by Charlton Heston (Phil Hartman)) crying, “Soylent Green is STILL made out of people! They didn’t change the recipe like they said they were going to! It’s STILL people!!”.

In the summer of 2011, a green wafer containing plankton was released under the name ‘Soylent Green’. Created and produced by the Parallax Corporation, and manufactured under official license, its packaging is an imaginary concept of how Soylent Green might have been sold

Birthdays
1936 – Albert Finney (actor: Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, The Bourne Ultimatum, Amazing Grace, A Good Year, Aspects of Love, Ocean’s Twelve, Big Fish, others)

1936 – Glenda Jackson (Academy Award-winning actress: Women in Love [1970], A Touch of Class [1973])

1940 – James L. Brooks (Academy Award-winning director: Terms of Endearment [1984], I’ll Do Anything, Broadcast News, Thursday’s Game; screenwriter: I’ll Do Anything, Broadcast News, Terms of Endearment, Starting Over, Thursday’s Game, Room 222)

1946 – Candice Bergen (actress: The Romantics, Bride Wars, Boston Legal (TV series), The Women, Sex and the City, Law & Order: Trial by Jury (TV series), The In-Laws, Miss Congeniality, Sweet Home Alabama)

1955 – Kevin Peter Hall (actor: Highway to Hell, Predator 2, Big Top Pee-wee, Predator, Harry and the Hendersons, Monster in the Closet)

1956 – Wendy Crewson (actress: The Vow, Formosa Betrayed, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, Who Loves the Sun, The Covenant, Skinwalkers, Niagara Motel, others)

1961 – John Corbett (actor: Ramona and Beezus, Sex and the City 2, I Hate Valentine’s Day, Baby on Board, The Burning Plain)

1963 – Gary Daniels (actor: Johnny’s Gone, Forced to Fight, Game of Death, Hunt to Kill, The Expendables, The Lazarus Papers, Tekken, Immortally Yours)

1975 – Chris Diamantopoulos (actor: The Three Stooges, Under New Management, Three Days to Vegas, Wedding Daze)