Can You Solve the Mystery of "Soylent Green"?


By: Julie Medina

4 Min Quiz

Image: TMDB

About This Quiz

The futuristic world - overcrowded, polluted and poverty-stricken - needs Soylent Green to feed the masses. Do you recall what Soylent Green really is?

What kind of images are shown on Sol’s deathbed?

Frank is mesmerized by Sol’s euthanasia process's visual and musical montage – a display of extinct forests, wild animals, rivers and ocean life. As for the musical montage, the overture is the principal theme from the first movement of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, the "Pathetique." When the visual presentation starts, the music is the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's "Symphony #6 (The Pastoral)." When the flock of sheep appears, the music is "Morning" from Edvard Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite #1." At the end of the presentation is "Asas Death," also from the "Peer Gynt Suite."


What happens when the killer tracks Frank to a ration distribution center?

When Simonson’s murderer tracks Frank to a ration distribution center where Thorn and other police officers are providing security, he observes Frank watching as the crowd riots, due to a shortage of Soylent Green. The assassin attempts to kill Frank Thorn in the confusion, but he is crushed by a "scoop" crowd-dispersion vehicle. Prior to this scene, an exasperated woman coming out of the line says, "They gave me a quarter of a kilo! I stood in line the whole lousy day and they gave me a quarter of a kilo!" This suggests that America had switched to using metric system, measuring weights in kilograms. America is presently using the imperial system.


Besides searching for clues at Simonson’s luxurious apartment, what does Frank do?

Thorn searches Simonson's apartment for clues and enjoys Simonson's luxurious lifestyle, helping himself to Simonson's bourbon, fresh produce, and a steak Shirl purchased as a surprise for Simonson. The way he holds the running water in his hands and reverently views the food, speaks to how precious and rare these resources are in the year 2022.


The first lines of a movie can set the stage or tone. In this film, what do viewers learn about from the first few lines?

The first lines of the movie alert the viewer to the overcrowding in New York City and the type of futuristic crowd control that is used. Here are the exact lines. Voice over PA: “First stage removal. First stage removal. Streets prohibited to non-permits in one hour. Streets prohibited to non-permits in one hour.”


When Frank is at the processing plant he calls his precinct for backup. Then what happens?

It’s a tense scene, since Frank is the only eyewitness to the process of making Soylent Green, and the knowledge will die with him if he is murdered. At first, he doesn’t get through to the precinct, due to a priority call. He requests that he be connected to Shirl, and have the precinct call “cut in” as soon as a connection is available.


What did the Exchange feel was needed to expose the Soylent Corporation?

In order to have enough evidence to expose the Soylent Corporation, the exchange needed an eyewitness who could testify it was happening, as well as when and where the process was done. Thorn stows himself aboard a garbage truck to the disposal center, where he sees human corpses converted into Soylent Green. Returning to make his report, he is hunted by Fielding and others to be turned into Soylent Green.


Fielding is trying to kill Frank Thorn, due to his knowledge of Soylent Green. Where does Thorn go to blend in and disappear?

Thorn retreats into a cathedral filled with homeless people. He kills Fielding but Thorn himself is injured. Although it was not in this scene but in an earlier overcrowded church, the script gives a nod to the source novel “Make Room! Make Room!” When Thorn informs the priest that Simonson is dead, the priest says, "There should be a requiem Mass, but there's no room. Should I make room?”


Who says this to Thorn? “Well, if the punk didn't take anything from the apartment, what did you take?” Thorn responds, "Everything I could lay my hands on."

Chief Hatcher says this to Thorn, knowing the first thing Thorn does after entering somebody's home is steal anything edible. Apparently, this is not unexpected behavior for a policeman. They are beginning to starve, just like everyone else. So much so, that its common practice for everyone on the force to demand a percentage of someone else's salary to get by. Did you notice that the surname of Chief Hatcher is an anagram of producer Russell Thacher?


Why does Frank suspect that Simonson was murdered?

All of the above leads Frank to suspect an assassination. He tells this to his chief, Hatcher. Hatcher is portrayed by Brock Peters best known for playing the role of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird and for his role as "Crown" in the 1959 film version of Porgy and Bess. In later years, he gained recognition among Star Trek fans for his portrayals of Fleet Admiral Cartwright in two of the Star Trek feature films and Joseph Sisko, father of Benjamin Sisko, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.


Who is speaking to Simonson? “Uh... they told me to uh... to say that they were sorry, but that you had become... unreliable.” Simonson: “That's true.” “They can't risk, uh... catastrophe, they say.” Simonson: “They're right.”

The Killer, Gilbert, is sent to murder Simonson. Here is the rest of the quote: Gilbert: “Then, uh... this is right?” Simonson: “No, not right... Necessary.” Gilbert: “To who?” Simonson: “To... God.” Gilbert is portrayed by Stephen Young, a Canadian actor who starred in "Patton," "Soylent Green," "The Silent Partner," "The Mask of Sheba," "Rage," and "Lifeguard." Young also briefly hosted a 1980s Canadian game show, "Just Like Mom."


Who is Sol talking to? [There are beautiful images shown in Sol's euthanasia chamber] “Can you see it?” [choked up] “Yes...” Sol: “Isn't it beautiful?” “Oh, yes...” Sol: “I told you.” [humbly] “How could I know? How could I... how could I ever imagine...?”

When Thorn discovers he is too late to stop Sol's suicide, he begins to cry. According to a 1997 interview with Robert Osborne for Turner Classic Movies, Charlton Heston was really crying because he was so moved by Edward G. Robinson's performance. Robinson knew he was dying from cancer, but he kept it from the cast and crew. He knew it would be his last film, and his death scene was the last scene he ever filmed. He died ten days after shooting wrapped.


How was the film received?

Soylent Green has a 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film critic aggregation site, based on 35 reviews. As for the fans, the film was nominated for the AFI’s Top 10 Science Fiction Films and nominated for AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills.


What year does Soylent Green take place in the movie?

The movie is set in the year 2022. It is also set In New York City, with a population of 40 million within the confines of the city alone. In the novel, the action is set in the year 1999, with the same themes of overpopulation and overuse of resources.


Who is Frank talking to? “… you've told me a hundred times before. People were better, the world was better...” "Ah, people were always lousy... But there was a world, once. [Thorn chuckles] I was there, I can prove it! When I was a kid, you could buy meat anywhere! Eggs they had, real butter! Not this... crap!”

Sol is the person talking to Frank, telling him about the old days. According to the book, "Future Tense: The Cinema of Science Fiction," by John Brosnan, Harry Harrison showed up one day on the set and passed out copies of the source book to the cast and crew. He also gave Sol, portrayed by Edward G. Robinson, pointers on his character.


What merchandising was created from the Soylent Green movie?

Did you know, a small, green spirulina-based cracker called "Soylent Green" (officially licensed by MGM) was released in July 2011? The box does not use any images or characters from the film, but rather attempts (humorously) to be an actual product. The ingredients list does not list "people."


What happens when Sol brings the classified Soylent Oceanographic Survey Report to a group of researchers?

Sol brings the classified Soylent Oceanographic Survey Report to the Exchange, a group of researchers, who agree that the oceans no longer produce sufficient quantities of plankton from which Soylent Green is reputedly made. What horrifies Sol is when the Exchange infers that it is produced from human remains, the only supply of protein matching the known production rates. Due to Edward G. Robinson’s deafness, his dialogue scenes with other people had to be shot several times before he got the rhythm of the dialogue and could respond to people as if he could hear them.


What is the name of the detective who is assigned to solve the murder of a wealthy businessman?

Detective Frank Thorn is assigned to solve the murder of a wealthy businessman. Frank Thorn is portrayed by Charlton Heston, who has appeared in 100 films over the course of 60 years. He played Moses in the epic film, "The Ten Commandments," for which he received his first Golden Globe Award nomination. He also starred in "Ben-Hur," for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, "El Cid," and "Planet of the Apes." He also starred in the films, "The Greatest Show on Earth," "Secret of the Incas," and "The Big Country."


Who is Thorn talking to? Thorn: “Ocean's dying, plankton's dying... it's people. Soylent Green is made out of people. They're making our food out of people. Next thing they'll be breeding us like cattle for food. You've gotta tell them. You've gotta tell them!” “I promise, Tiger. I promise. I'll tell the Exchange.” Thorn: “You tell everybody. Listen to me. You've gotta tell them! Soylent Green is people! We've gotta stop them somehow!”

Frank Thorn is talking to Chief Hatcher. These lines are the very last in the movie. Did you know that the Soylent Green manufacturing facility that is in this scene is actually the Chevron oil refinery and power plant in El Segundo, California?


How does Frank figure out that Tab Fielding is crooked?

Thorn visits Fielding's apartment and interrogates Fielding's concubine, Martha, who helps herself to a teaspoon of strawberry jam, later identified by Roth as too expensive a luxury for the concubine of a bodyguard to afford. Martha is portrayed by Paula Kelly, a dancer and actress in films, television and theatre. Kelly’s film credits include the Bob Fosse-directed film, "Sweet Charity," "The Spook Who Sat By The Door," "The Andromeda Strain," "Uptown Saturday Night" "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling," "Drop Squad," and "Once Upon a Time... When We Were Colored."


What happens when Governor Santini closes the investigation but Frank ignores the order?

Governor Santini closes the investigation, but Frank Thorn ignores the directive and the Soylent Corporation dispatches Simonson's murderer to kill Frank. Governor Santini is portrayed by Whit Bissel, a character actor who appears in hundreds of films and television episodes. His roles include starring in "I Was a Teenage Werewolf," "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," and "Creature from the Black Lagoon." Bissell's most prominent television role was as General Heywood Kirk in "The Time Tunnel." He also starred in the classic, "The Trouble With Tribbles," of "Star Trek" fame. Bissell received a life career award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films in 1994.


Who is talking to Frank Thorn? Thorn: “Turn the air conditioning way up!” “Way up! We'll make it as cold as winter used to be!”

This quote tells about how the environment has changed in the future, where winter is a memory. Shirl is talking to Frank in Simonson’s apartment. Taylor-Young, who portrays Shirl, got her first big break in 1966, when she was cast as Rachel Welles in the prime-time soap opera, "Peyton Place," for seven years. It was on this series that she met Ryan O'Neal, whom she later married.


What does Sol decide to do when he finds out Soylent Green is made from people?

Unable to live with this discovery, Sol seeks assisted suicide at a government clinic. Before dying, Roth tells Thorn his discovery and begs him to expose the truth to the world through the researchers. This was the 101st and last movie in which Edward G. Robinson appeared; he died of bladder cancer January 26, 1973. Robinson had previously worked with Heston in "The Ten Commandments."


What is the name of the wealthy businessman?

William R. Simonson is portrayed by Joseph Cotten, an American film, stage, radio and television actor. Cotten achieved fame on Broadway, in "Philadelphia Story" and "Sabrina Fair." He achieved worldwide fame in "Citizen Kane," "The Magnificent Ambersons," and "Journey into Fear," for which Cotten was also credited with the screenplay. As a leading Hollywood actor, he starred in "Shadow of a Doubt," "Love Letters," "Duel in the Sun," "Portrait of Jennie," "The Third Man," and "Niagara." One of his final films was "Heaven's Gate."


When was this movie made?

"Soylent Green" was made in 1973, so the setting was almost 50 years into the future. The novel that the movie is loosely based on, "No Room! No Room!," was published in 1966 but was set only 33 years in the future. The science fiction thriller film was directed by Richard Fleischer, who is also known for directing "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," "Barabbas," "Fantastic Voyage," "Doctor Dolittle," and "Tora! Tora! Tora!" - to name a few.


What is Soylent Green actually made of?

This was the big cover-up by the Soylent Corporation, that Frank ended up exposing while solving a murder case. The movie's line "Soylent Green is people!" was voted as the #77 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).


What does Sol discover about the murdered businessman?

Roth's research reveals Simonson and the current governor of New York, Joseph Santini, were partners in a law firm, and that Simonson was also a member of the board of the Soylent Corporation. Simonson was well connected and extremely wealthy. The video game in Simonson's apartment, Computer Space (1971), was one of the first coin-operated video games, manufactured by Nutting Associates in and designed by Nolan Bushnell, who later founded Atari and designed Pong (1972).


What do Sol and Frank do with the fresh produce Frank steals from Simonson’s apartment?

The scene where Thorn and Roth share a meal of fresh food was not originally in the script, but was ad-libbed by Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson at director Richard Fleischer's request. During shooting, Edward G. Robinson was almost totally deaf but ended up giving a fantastic performance.


What does Frank tell Shirl when he returns to see her after the riots?

Thorn returns to Shirl, telling her that all cities are like New York and to remain with the next owner of the apartment. It is not unusual for dystopian future films to feature women involved in "the oldest profession." In this film's damaged society, economically privileged men rent upscale apartments equipped with the special amenity of attractive female slaves called "furniture." These women seem to associate their role with a level of comfort and status.


Who else does Frank question, regarding Simonson?

Frank questions a priest who heard Simonson’s confession, due to Shirl revealing that Simonson became troubled in the days before his death. The priest, nearly catatonic from overwork, has trouble remembering Simonson and either cannot or will not describe the confession. Fielding later murders the priest to tie up loose ends. The priest is played by Lincoln Kilpatrick, a film, television, and stage actor. Lincoln Kilpatrick started his career in the theater, starring in "A Raisin in the Sun." He acted mostly in the theater, where he remained active until his death. Kilpatrick was a cofounder of the Kilpatrick-Cambridge Theatre Arts School in Hollywood, California. He was also the first African-American member of the Lincoln Center Repertory Company.


This movie won a Saturn award in which category?

"Soylent Green" won a Saturn Award for the Best Science Fiction Film of the Year. It also won the Grand Prize at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival. The Nebula Award for the Best Film of Year was also won by "Soylent Green."


What is the name of William Simonson’s bodyguard?

Tab Fielding, Simonson's bodyguard, who, when the murder took place, was escorting Shirl, is portrayed by Chuck Conners, an American actor and writer, as well as a professional basketball and baseball player. With a 40-year film and television career, he is best known for his five-year role as Lucas McCain in the highly rated ABC series, "The Rifleman." Did you know he played in both the Major League Baseball and in the National Basketball Association?


Who does Frank give the Survey Report to?

Frank Thorn lives with aged friend and "book" (a police analyst) Solomon "Sol" Roth. Roth is well-educated and uses a small library of reference materials to assist Thorn. Sol Roth is portrayed by the one and only Edward G. Robinson, who has appeared in 40 Broadway plays and more than 100 films during a 50-year career. He is best remembered for his tough-guy roles as a gangster, such as his star-making films, "Little Caesar" and "Key Largo." This was his last film before passing away from bladder cancer.


What important clue does Frank find?

Thorn finds the classified Soylent Oceanographic Survey Report, 2015 to 2019, in Simonson's apartment. The skyline that is seen through Simonson’s luxurious apartment was shot in 1970, before construction on the World Trade Center was finished. Due to this, the towers aren't featured in any shots of the skyline. Therefore, the film inadvertently predicts 9/11 by showing a future New York City without the towers.


What is the name of the concubine who lived with the wealthy businessman?

Shirl is a concubine who gives Frank some information about the murdered businessman. Shirl is portrayed by Leigh Taylor-Young, who has appeared on stage, screen, podcast, radio, and television. She has had a long career, spanning more than 45 years. She has received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, as well as other prestigious nominations.


What does the Soylent Corporation say Soylent Green is made of?

According to the Soylent Corporation, Soylent Green is made of “high-energy plankton” from the World Ocean. The movie is loosely based on the 1966 novel by Harry Harrison, entitled, "Make Room! Make Room!" In the sci-fi novel, the word "soylent" is supposed to suggest soybeans and lentils.


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