2022 Well- it’s finally here. We made it… sort of.
When Soylent Green came out in 1973, we all wondered what 2022 would really be like.
We can hide out here…
This is a matte painting. The bottom half is actual and located at MGM lot 1. Left to right- the scenic art building where the backdrops were painted. Next, recessed, is Stage 14. The building right of that is set lighting cable storage. The rooftop of each structure start the seam of this futuristic skyline. This looks like any current parking lot in L.A. Dysfunction everywhere you turn.
Same location of Matte painting-50 years after. Now it is – The Goldbergs -TV series base camp.
“ Follow the rules people”
“ The things I’ve seen... were better than they are now!“
Thorn –on my favorite stairway on the backlot.
We’re standing where Chuck is- a few months later…
I used this stairway all the time, this is a strategic building, for all things NY street. Once inside, you can work your way around on rooftops. I lost a tooth in this building. I ran into a steel cable with my face, boys will be boys. My mom had to take me to emergency for stitches and a cap. One of my many backlot battle scars.
I relived this Thorn pose exactly, it’s what we do here, relive famous scenes, where they were created.
Medical Center filmed this set, Chad Everett, Dr Joe Gannon, used car jumper cables to kick start a victim of cardiac arrest. By gosh, it worked. Nowadays, people would walk right past that corpse.
1980 – Under those same stairs
I wanted this stairway so bad…the world’s falling apart.
A could protect us… No-Fly Zone
I love the 70’s van souped up to look 2022. The bike seen here is a studio work bike. I owned one for a brief time, but I was spotted on it and chased down public streets by MGM security. I had to abort. It had 3 wheels, and a big steel front basket to carry equipment. Mine had a sign- Drapery Department. Before you pass judgement, I felt I earned it and deserved it. I confessed to this shenanigan to a priest in a confessional booth and was issued a penance. One hundred Hail Mary’s later, the … Lord exonerated me Amen.
1972 meet 2022
A 1973 Saturday afternoon right after a good rain, NY street with no one on the lot but me… It’s like I own it! Soylent Green could still be found in the theater when I took this picture.
The population was wearing masks for the movie in 1972- In 2022, so do we!
Something killed everybody… Covid, starvation, WW3 – ! who knows
This looks like the Ukraine presently, but it’s good old MGM lot 2-“ Get us out of here” …This is where my Soylent Green chase started, under the marquee. God bless our friends in Ukraine.
The world was a better place with the Apes in charge…
We’re now living in … The Twilight Zone, it seems. Cavender come save us!
These trays all got spilled in the riot scenes. This is where I captured my Soylent Green and the Call Sheet. These scenes were filmed the day before. Soon after grabbing this green lunch the guard showed up and this turned into a wild west chase. Security shot at my friend Pat as we were running to the fence. The fence is a long ways away from this theater district. I had a call sheet in my pocket and green and red painted Soylent in my hands. These pieces lasted in my museum/ bedroom until I moved out. It’s then my parents threw so many cool items, I could cry. “ Why do you want that stale green bread Donnie?“- “ Because I earned it mother!”
“So this really happened…after all.” Logo at bottom says People Food
Tuesday is Soylent Green Day!
Same window as rioters are converging on, when the world was in better shape. Here -dressed for another George Cukor backlot scene.
The main rioting took place on this corner.
“ Don’t complain, this is the New World Order!”
Make Love -Not WAR is what we Hippies from the 60’s said…
There will be sanctions -I’m sure, for this conduct.
To this day, mankind hasn’t devised any better way to leave this realm.
I’m signing up for this method, watching old MGM reruns, till death do us part. Ironically Sol– Edward G. Robinson died after this film.
My puppy dog Thora watching Courage of Lassie...animals get it.
I had a fort in the top story of the building across the street, it lasted until the building was torn down. My longest surviving fort. Great views towards Vet’s Tower and the Baldwin Hills.
I ended up with the lamp shell round bulb, the one on the right. It was green with black identification, it said 56th Precinct.
I met Yul, right after this scene, we stood face to face, just me, Yul, and the director. He never talked, he just stared at me, he was in character- but so was I. I just wandered right up, like some young producer, it was the Martini scene– last shot before wrap. He looked like a robot, his eyes, his movements, straight out of Westworld….
Westworld... That’s one future idea I was looking forward to, an adult theme park– it never happened. It was this silent, motionless, vacant expression that was staring me down, right in main intersection on 5th Avenue. You see this look a lot more these days…
This wheel is now a hit TV show filmed on this same lot…” Good Luck”
Wheel of Fortune-Logan’s Run style…1975. “ Go ahead Vanna-spin it!”
This set burned down in the 1967 fire, American in Paris, starring Gene Kelly, filmed here. This is where the cemetery is set up in 1972 for Soylent Green
Cemetery- take this exit.
This cemetery was moved as far as it could and still stay on the backlot. These tombstones are where I hid the first ever time I entered a Hole in the Fence. I laid along side them, scared stiff. They would again move for the Phantom of Hollywood movie of the week, to the Tarzan Lake set. Then once again, for Logan’s Run. Like a traveling circus of dead people.
The biosphere balloon tent and cemetery were located here, where these stands and stairs are sitting. We lost this area in 1967 fire. Cameras and lights generally go on those platforms. The Blue MGM sign in the distance is promoting Logan’s Run.
Chuck has promo for Mt. Sinai at wrap. A star’s work is never done.
50 years later– the world is incredibly worse than this movie depicted. With no end in sight. Go Green…
Let’s see, is it just me, or is this movie chillingly accurate. The masks, the living conditions, and methods used for compliance… “
Get the Scoops!”
I wrote about sneaking on this set and went into detail on the scariest chase ever in my first book. But a look back 50 years is a bit, shall we say
Sobering. We seem to have these same problems, plus we have World War. Take that 1972- we got it worse.
Logan’s Run filmed on this lot 4 years later, and also has a form of population control. A wheel of fortune is how your fate is determined, when you hit thirty, you may wish to run.
The Ultimate Warrior filmed on these same sets with yet another apocalypse, starring Yul Brynner. Then, A Planet full of Apes took over the street and things ran very well.
Another film, which is coming true- is
Blade Runner. Robots with artificial intelligence. What was sci-fi, is now as real as it gets.
I wanted to share this 50 year old snapshot in time and compare our society as it is today.
Submitted for your approval– Soylent Green 1972-2022
“Soylent Green is People”... a harbinger of things to come!
Written and lived by …Donnie Norden
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Phantom of the Backlot
They called me the "phantom of the backlot." Join me on my adventures through the historic and celebrated MGM studios, in Culver City, during the height of its glory.
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2 thoughts on “Tuesday is Soylent Green Day”
I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, you and your photos and your stories are absolutely amazing.
I amaze myself! Thanks G!
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