Actor Charlton Heston brought the idea of “Make Room, Make Room” (original title) to MGM and all the elements would come together. In 1973, MGM Studios was nearing its end of production and ready to move to Las Vegas as the MGM Grand. This would be their last major film shot on their famed back lot before it was sold off for real estate.
PLOT. Police Det. Thorn investigates a murder leading to a government conspiracy silencing those who know what’s in their new wonder food known as Soylent Green. (Based on a novel by Harry Harrison.)
What’s radically different about Soylent Green? Back then and still, most science-fiction is about outer space travel, aliens or an advanced technology. Instead, this predicts a crumbling civilization, over-population and the desperation of people trying to stay alive.
THE FUTURE IS NOW
Shot in late 1972-early 1973, some fifty years before 2022, what predictions have come true?
We are beginning to see rampant inflation and food shortages. (In the movie, a jar of strawberries costs $150.)
“People are still the same” reads the poster ad. Truer words were never spoken. Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson), a voice from the past says, “People were always rotten. But, the world was beautiful.”
Police State. Many people don’t want to admit this is true, but it is. Gov’t police have absolute authority. Riot control police use “people scoops” – trash trucks – to herd rioters who go wild when they’re told there’s no more Soylent Green. [A supposed combination of soybeans-lentils-and high-energy plankton farmed from the sea!]
Some cast extra were masks.
Economy becomes socialist.
Charlton Heston as Detective Robert Thorn
Leigh Taylor-Young as Shirl
Edward G. Robinson as Sol Roth
Chuck Connors as Tab Fielding
Brock Peters as Hatcher
Paula Kelly as Martha
Joseph Cotton as William R. Simonson
This would be legendary actor Edward G. Robinson’s last performance and it is memorable.
Heston commented: Robinson told him before filming their last scene together that he had terminal cancer. Heston admits “those were real tears” during filming.
Edward G. Robinson celebrates his 100th and final role. He was working on his autobiography at the time. Published posthumously as “All My Yesterdays”.
Leigh Taylor-Young is cast as “Shirl”, Simonson’s furniture girl. (She comes with the apartment.) Best acting moment: when confronted by a new tenant who asks her “Are you fun?”
Chuck Heston was the catalyst for “Soylent Green”. It is one of his best roles.
Sol prepares Thorn a rare treat: “beef stew”.
The score is composed by Fred Myrow. It’s most favorably utilized during the opening still frame photo sequence where mass-production, from the industrial revolution is shown to be the cause for our polluted world.
Director Richard Fleischer provides a commentary on the DVD, along with Leigh Taylor-Young.
Fascinating bio-pic of Elvis Presley as told from the point-of-view from his longtime manager Colonel Tom Parker.
Previously, we had the excellent TV-film “Elvis” (1979) as portrayed by Kurt Russell (Directed by John Carpenter.) The difference between the two is the grim shadow Col. Parker hangs over Elvis’ career.
The movie is surprisingly accurate as to whom this illegal Dutch immigrant is: a “carny” who learned to bluff and bamboozle everybody, eventually managing the most famous singer of the Twentieth Century.
Elvis himself was the first white singer who sang black – as shown by the various singers who influenced him. Also, gospel.
The Colonel (played with sinister glee by Tom Hanks) doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the music. He sees a walking money machine.
Elvis with parents
Gladys Presley, Elvis mother, rightly predicts: “If Elvis signs with the Colonel, he’ll be dead by forty.” But Elvis and his father Vernon sign their deal with the devil.
1956-1958. The halcyon years where every song went gold, every movie became a hit, until he’s drafted in the Army. Again, (a little known fact the movie gets right), Elvis is conned into joining the Army by the Colonel. The plan is to clean up “El’s” image – make him a clean wholesome boy every mother would love. The problem is: you’ve just destroyed the rebel.
While in the Army, Gladys dies and the seed is sown for Elvis’ eventual self-destruction. He never gets over it.
Olivia Dejonge as Priscilla
Soon after, he meets Priscilla Beaulieu, the fourteen year old Army brat, he’ll be forced to marry in 1967.
The 1960’s. Elvis becomes a movie star doing three motion pictures per year. The quality of these pictures declines in the mid-60’s and with the emergence of the Beatles – the King is temporarily dethroned.
1968. NBC and TV director Steve Binder give Elvis a chance to save himself with a one hour TV special. With nothing to lose, he takes it and it galvanizes “El” into a new and exciting phase in his career. (Col. Tom will fight Elvis and Binder for control over this special; a rare time the Colonel will lose.)
1969. Thus begins the Elvis Vegas show era that started off as a good thing until the grind drove Elvis to drugs. Wife Priscilla gets fed-up with being left alone and files for divorce. Again, this sets off a chain-reaction. Elvis goes deeper and deeper into the world of narcotics.
1973. Elvis’ last hurrah. Because the Colonel can’t travel (no passport), he arranges a satellite special broadcast to 1.5 billion people. It is a crowning achievement in the King’s career.
The final years. With no more challenges, no more movies, Elvis is left alone with nothing except going on tour, more drugs, more girls, more bad food, turning him into what we now call the “fat Elvis”.
In a rage, Elvis finally fires the Colonel, who promptly turns around demanding $8 million for his expenses dating all the way back to 1956. Elvis can’t pay, won’t file for bankruptcy and the two remain together until the bitter end.
Elvis concludes with “Unchained Melody” as sung in “Elvis in Concert”, his last TV special.
Post script. The Colonel is sued by the estate of Elvis Presley (Priscilla and Lisa-Marie Presley) for misappropriation of funds – i.e., grabbing half and more of Elvis’ money. It’s true again, as depicted in the film, Elvis was virtually enslaved by the International Hotel to perform for five years in exchange for paying off the Colonel’s gambling debt. Not mentioned is how the Colonel sold off Elvis’ back catalog of RCA songs (1956-1973) squandering a fortune for a quick payoff.
Austin Butler as Elvis Presley.
Butler captures the charisma and the talent of the kid from Tupelo who would set the world on fire with his music. He gets the many gestures and expressions, the quirks, the smiles and the anger that dominates the last years, succumbing into a dark cloud of depression.
Tom Hanks as Col. Tom Parker. Hanks is on the left. Parker is on the right.
Tom Hanks (an Elvis fan) wears a mountain of makeup and prosthetics, shapeshifting into the Colonel. What Hanks gets right is the craftiness, the sly as a fox “snowman” as he is nicknamed. (Wasn’t his whole life one big snow-job?) What he doesn’t get right is the meanness. The Colonel bullied others to get his own way using poor Elvis even after he died – selling his records repeatedly by repackaging them. It is rumored the Colonel (aka Andreas Cornelis Van Kuijk) committed murder in his home country of Holland and then hopped a ship to the U.S. to avoid prosecution.)
Baz Luhrmann pulls out all the stops making “Elvis” big, extravagant and over-the-top. It’s what makes “Elvis” work. You can’t get more to what the American dream is than Elvis and the unintended consequences.
Elvis fans may be disturbed by seeing the “King” turned into a pawn by the Colonel, but that’s the way it really was. If it makes any difference, by 1977, Elvis was pretty much doing what he wanted – refusing to record (his last record is a patchwork of recordings from different years.) And in the end, Elvis pulled the plug on himself, whether on purpose or by accident, he ended it his way.
Fake President Joe Biden fell off his bicycle in another one of his sad attempts to look “cool”. Biden can be seen coming to a stop, putting one foot down and the other in the pedal which caused the fall. If “Sleepy Joe” can’t figure out how to stop a bike without collapsing, how is he supposed to run a country? The equally fake MSM is also pretending not to know America has a senile occupant in the White House.
Many have read or heard of Hollywood films that were cursed: examples being “Rebel Without a Cause”, “The Crow”, “The Exorcist” and so on.
But what about “Atuk”, an intended movie that remains unfilmed? “Atuk” was meant to be a comedy about an Eskimo encountering the modern world, but there’s nothing funny about what happened to the actors who all died unexpected, strange or violent deaths. All had intentions in starring as “Atuk”, except for Phil Hartman, who read the screenplay as given to him by Chris Farley.
John Belushi was interested in “Atuk” until his speedball overdose on March 5, 1982. Age 33.
Sam Kinison was killed in a car crash on April 10, 1992, age 38.
John Candy died from a heart attack while filming “Wagon’s East”. Age 43.
Phil Hartman read the script for “Atuk”. He was shot to death by his wife Brynn, who then killed herself. Phil was 49.
Chris Farley died from an overdose in his Chicago apartment on December 18, 1997. Age 33.
“A Clown’s Prayer” was recited at Farley’s funeral