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The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Poster

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Jodie Foster claims that during the first meeting between Lecter and Starling, Sir Anthony Hopkins' mocking of her southern accent was improvised on the spot. Foster's horrified reaction was genuine, she felt personally attacked. She later thanked Hopkins for generating such an honest reaction.
In preparation for his role, Sir Anthony Hopkins studied files of serial killers. Also, he visited prisons, and studied convicted murderers, and was present during some court hearings concerning gruesome murderers and serial killings.
With twenty-four minutes and fifty-two seconds of screen time, Sir Anthony Hopkins' performance in this movie is the second shortest to ever win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, with David Niven in Separate Tables (1958) beating him, at twenty-three minutes and thirty-nine seconds.
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After Lecter was moved from Baltimore, the plan was to dress him in a yellow or orange jumpsuit. Sir Anthony Hopkins convinced director Jonathan Demme and costume designer Colleen Atwood that the character would seem more clinical and unsettling if he was dressed in pure white. Hopkins has since said he got the idea from his fear of dentists.
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The real-life FBI's Behavioral Science Unit assisted in the making of this movie.
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One of the inspirations from whom Sir Anthony Hopkins borrowed for his interpretation of Dr. Hannibal Lecter was a friend of his in London who rarely blinked when speaking, which unnerved anyone around him.
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When characters are talking to Starling (Jodie Foster), they often talk directly to the camera. When she is talking to them, she is always looking slightly off-camera. Director Jonathan Demme has explained that this was done so as the audience would directly experience her point-of-view, but not theirs, hence encouraging the audience to more readily identify with her.
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The production received full cooperation from the FBI, as they saw it as a potential recruiting tool to hire more female agents.
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The Silence of the Lambs was inspired by the real-life relationship between University of Washington criminology professor and profiler Robert Keppel and serial killer Ted Bundy. Bundy helped Keppel investigate the Green River Serial Killings in Washington. Bundy was executed January 24, 1989. The Green River Killings were finally solved in 2001 when Gary Ridgway was arrested. On November 5, 2003, in a Seattle courtroom, Ridgway pled guilty to forty-eight counts of aggravated first degree murder.
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When Sir Anthony Hopkins found out that he was cast as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, based on his performance as Dr. Frederick Treves in The Elephant Man (1980), he questioned director Jonathan Demme, and said "But Dr. Treves was a good man", to which Demme replied "So is Lecter, he is a good man too. Just trapped in an insane mind."
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Jame Gumb (Ted Levine) was the combination of three real-life serial killers: Ed Gein, who skinned his victims, Ted Bundy, who used the cast on his hand as bait to convince women to get into his van, and Gary Heidnick, who kept women he kidnapped in a pit in his basement. Gein was only positively linked to two murders, and suspected of two others. He gathered most of his materials through grave robbing, not murder.
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Jodie Foster spent a great deal of time with FBI agent Mary Ann Krause prior to filming. Krause gave Foster the idea of Starling standing by her car crying. Krause told Foster that at times, the work just became so overwhelming that it was a good way to get an emotional release.
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When Jonathan Demme filmed the scene where Lecter and Starling first meet, Sir Anthony Hopkins said he should look directly at the camera as it panned into his line of sight. He felt Lecter should be portrayed as "knowing everything".
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When Sir Anthony Hopkins' agent called him in London, to tell him that he was sending him a script called "The Silence of the Lambs", Hopkins immediately thought he might be going up for a children's movie.
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Director Jonathan Demme was convinced that Jodie Foster would be perfect for Clarice Starling when he saw her purposefully walk down a corridor to meet him. He liked her air of determination.
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Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster only share four scenes throughout the course of this movie.
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Sir Anthony Hopkins improvised the fast slurping-type sound that Hannibal Lecter does. He did it spontaneously during filming, and everyone thought it was great. Jonathan Demme became annoyed with it after a while, but denied his irritation.
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This movie surpassed its budget in its first week of release.
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Clarice Starling was chosen by the American Film Institution as the sixth-greatest movie hero (out of fifty), the highest ranked female on the list. Dr. Hannibal Lecter was chosen as the number one greatest movie villain (also out of fifty).
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Sir Anthony Hopkins said he saw Lecter as similar to H.A.L. 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). A highly complex, highly intelligent, highly logical killing machine, who seems to know everything going on around him.
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Jame Gumb's dance was not included in the original draft of the screenplay, although it appears in the novel. It was added at the insistence of Ted Levine, who thought the scene was essential in defining the character.
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Notoriously private and shy, author Thomas Harris declined the opportunity to be involved in this movie in any way, though he did wish the cast and crew the best of luck with the adaptation.
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Sir Anthony Hopkins described his voice for Dr. Hannibal Lecter as "a combination of Truman Capote and Katharine Hepburn."
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When Clarice visits Dr. Hannibal Lecter in his new facility, Lecter insists she continue telling him about her childhood as part of the agreement. Jodie Foster, reluctantly, continues her story about running away. Midway through her confessions, she mentions taking a lamb with her. If one listens closely after she says, "I thought if I could save just one..." a distant sound of something being dropped can be heard in the background. A crewman dropped a wrench during filming. Jonathan Demme panicked, thinking it would ruin the scene completely. However, Foster remained in character and continued the story, ultimately convincing Demme to keep the footage. After "cut" was said, Foster turned her head to the crew and yelled "What the hell was that?!"
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After Jodie Foster first read the Thomas Harris novel, she tried to buy the rights herself, only to find Gene Hackman had beaten her to it.
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When Ted Tally was writing the screenplay for this movie, he suggested Jodie Foster for role of Clarice Starling. Foster had been lobbying hard for the part, but when Jonathan Demme was hired to direct, he wanted Michelle Pfeiffer instead. Pfeiffer turned it down because Orion Pictures wasn't willing to pay the $2 million for which she asked. Demme then agreed to meet Foster. He hired her after only one meeting, because he said he could see her strength and determination for the part, and he felt that was perfect for Clarice.
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The idea to use glass in Lecter's Baltimore cell, as opposed to traditional bars, came from production designer Kristi Zea. The idea came about because director Jonathan Demme was unhappy shooting the Lecter scenes through bars, as he felt they negated the sense of intimacy between Lecter and Starling, which he was trying to achieve. In Harris' novel, Lecter's cell did have bars, but also a nylon net just behind them.
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Within ten years of the release of this movie, the building used for the exterior of Lecter's asylum had been shut down and demolished. Footage from this movie was re-used to create the establishing shots used in Red Dragon (2002).
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The first moth cocoon found in one of the victim's throats was made from a combination of Tootsie Rolls and gummy bears, so it would be edible if swallowed.
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To everyone's surprise, reclusive author Thomas Harris sent all of the Oscar recipients a case of wine.
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Selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in December 2011, as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
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After being cast as Jame Gumb, Ted Levine developed his character by reading profiles of serial killers. Levine later said he found the material very disturbing. Since Gumb was a crossdresser, he went to a few trans bars and interviewed some patrons.
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The FBI was very impressed by this movie's accuracy in depicting criminal investigations, serial killers, and their victims. However, they disagreed with Clarice (Jodie Foster) discovering Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) on her own, because inexperienced agents are never sent alone on dangerous assignments. When Jonathan Demme explained to them that he wouldn't change it, because it was the movie's psychological climax, they agreed, saying that it would be the most improbable and rare course of action of all time, never to be repeated again.
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Gene Hackman bought the rights to the novel. He planned to direct this movie, and play either Dr. Hannibal Lecter or Jack Crawford. He withdrew after watching a clip of himself in Mississippi Burning (1988) at the The 61st Annual Academy Awards (1989), which made him uneasy about taking more violent roles.
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During location scouting for the house in which the serial killer Jame Gumb was living, Ted Levine (Jame Gumb) was amazed to discover that the house being considered was not only in the town where he grew up, but was literally next door to the house of his high school girlfriend.
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When studying the character he played, Sir Anthony Hopkins noticed similar characteristics in reptiles. Reptiles only blink when they want to, and do it consciously. Therefore, in the movie, Hopkins only blinks in special moments and very consciously.
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The pattern on the moth's back in the movie posters is not the natural pattern of the Death's-head hawkmoth. It is, in fact, Salvador Dalí's "In Voluptas Mors", a picture of seven naked women made to look like a human skull.
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Originally, this movie was to open with Clarice Starling and a male FBI agent in the middle of a drug bust. They were to burst into the room and make several arrests, then the bust would be revealed as a training exercise. Jodie Foster was able to convince Jonathan Demme to change the scene, because it had been done so many times before. Foster came up with the idea of opening with Starling running through the assault course. The drug bust training idea was still used, but after Clarice's first conversation with Lecter.
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After working with former FBI agent John Edward Douglas for some time, Scott Glenn thanked him and said how fascinating it was to have been allowed into his world. Douglas laughed and told Glenn that if he really wanted to get into his world, he should listen to an audio tape of serial killers Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris torturing, raping, and murdering two teenage girls. Glenn listened to less than one minute of the tape, and has since said that he feels he lost a sense of innocence in doing so, and that he has never been able to forget what he heard.
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As of the end of the 90th Academy Awards in 2018, this is one of three movies to win the top five Oscars: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Screenplay (in this case Adapted from Another Medium. Both Screenplay awards are considered part of the top five). The others are It Happened One Night (1934) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
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Ted Tally was halfway through his adaptation of Thomas Harris' novel when financing of this movie fell through. Orion Pictures President Mike Medavoy urged him to carry on regardlessly.
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The filmmakers were prepared to go to Montana to shoot a flashback sequence depicting Clarice's runaway attempt. After filming the dialogue between Jodie Foster and Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Demme realized it would be pointless to cut away from their performances and announced, "I guess we aren't going to Montana."
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The portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter is rated as the number one villain on the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains list.
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Jack Crawford was based on real-life FBI Special Agent John Edward Douglas, an early member of the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit, who coached Scott Glenn on his portrayal of a member of the BSU. Douglas, still an active FBI Special Agent during production, was in the midst of tracking Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, who was believed to have killed more than ninety women in Washington between 1982 and 1998. Ridgway was arrested in 2001, and pled guilty to forty-eight counts of aggravated first degree murder on November 5, 2003.
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An early decision on the part of director Jonathan Demme was to film at Quantico, the FBI's own training environment, which had always closed its doors to movie crews. Visiting Quantico for the first time, production designer Kristi Zea was struck by how boring and prosaic the location was. She expressed her concern to Demme, who replied that he wanted the place to look as mundane as possible.
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Dino De Laurentiis, who had produced Manhunter (1986), passed on this movie because Manhunter (1986) had flopped. He gave the rights away free to Orion Pictures. He then went on to co-produce Hannibal (2001) and Red Dragon (2002).
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Contrary to popular rumor, Thomas Harris saw this movie shortly after it came out. According to a New York Magazine profile of Harris, "The Silence of the Writer", by Phoebe Hoban (April 15, 1991), he called it, "A great movie. I've been surrounded by it, so I wanted to see it. I admire Jonathan Demme, and we were very fortunate to have him and Ted Tally, and we were very lucky with the cast."
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Jodie Foster avoided Sir Anthony Hopkins during their scenes together, because she was terrified of him.
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Brooke Smith and Ted Levine were actually very close on the set, making Jodie Foster refer to Brooke Smith as Patricia Hearst, a kidnapping victim who later fell in love with her kidnapper.
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Like Casablanca (1942), this movie contains a famous misquoted line: most people quote Dr. Hannibal Lecter's (Sir Anthony Hopkins') famous "Good evening, Clarice" as "Hello, Clarice". This line did, however, appear in Hannibal (2001). In Hannibal (2001), when Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice (Julianne Moore) speak on the phone for the first time, he does in fact say "Hello, Clarice". This was possibly put in by the writers of the movie as an inside joke, in reference to the misquoting of this movie.
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Brooke Smith gained twenty-five pounds for her role as Catherine Martin.
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Jodie Foster, Jonathan Demme, Scott Glenn, and a few other cast and crew members did a great deal of research at the FBI training facility in Quantico, Virginia. They studied under criminal profiling agents, learned about firearms and agent training, and sat in several classes.
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Almost all of the scenes in Dr. Hannibal Lecter's original cell have either a reflection of Hannibal or Clarice, depending on the camera's point of view.
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The Tobacco hornworm moths used throughout this movie were given celebrity treatment. They were flown first class to the set in a special carrier, had special living quarters (rooms with controlled humidity and heat), and were dressed in carefully designed costumes (body shields bearing a painted skull and crossbones).
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Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) tells Senator Ruth Martin (Diane Baker) that Buffalo Bill's (Ted Levine's) real name is "Louis Friend", an anagram of iron sulfide, or fool's gold. In the novel, he gives the name "Billy Rubin". This is a play on bilirubin, a pigment found in feces, and the color of Dr. Frederick Chilton's (Anthony Heald's) hair.
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Brooke Smith entered in and out of the pit by crouching through a small door that was half her size. It was then covered with dirt to keep it out of sight of the camera.
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Jodie Foster stated in Inside Story: The Silence of the Lambs (2010) that this is one of her many favorites movie of her own.
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Thematic parallel: The tune played by the music box in Mr. Bimmel's (Harry Northup's) deceased daughter Fredrica's bedroom is from the Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart opera "The Magic Flute". In that opera, the tune is played by a music box which magically protects the female protagonist from another character who covets her body, by mesmerizing him and his henchmen so that they dance and sing in a blissful trance instead of capturing her.
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Most of this movie was shot in Pittsbugh, Pennsylvania, which was chosen for its large variety of landscapes and architecture. Some of this movie's interior scenes, including the Baltimore jail scene in the beginning, and the ballroom scene of Dr. Hannibal Lecter in his cage, were shot in Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, located on Fifth Avenue in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh.
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The rules for speaking with Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) are the same as the rules for speaking with Ethan Powell in Instinct (1999), a role also played by Hopkins.
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Clarice Starling was one of the biggest influences for creating the character of Dana Scully, according to The X-Files (1993) creator Chris Carter. There is also a tribute to this movie in the last episode of the ninth season, when Scully visits Mulder in the jail and he tells her, "I smelled you coming, Clarice."
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Sir Anthony Hopkins viewed this movie as a last ditch effort to really break out in Hollywood. Although he had acted in movies and on television since the 1960s, he had not reached A-list status, nor had he attained the prestige for which he had been hoping with his screen acting career. He went on to say that if this movie hadn't garnered the career boost he was seeking, he would have then quit his acting career in Hollywood and focus all his efforts instead on the British stage. Ultimately, this movie was a major critical and commercial success, instantly making him a household name. His performance in the movie earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, for which he had won, immediately launching him into A-list status in Hollywood. As of 2018, Hopkins has received three more Academy Award nominations.
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At least six directors have roles in this movie: Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Kasi Lemmons, Roger Corman, Dan Butler, and a cameo by George A. Romero.
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Sir John Hurt, Christopher Lloyd, Dustin Hoffman, Sir Patrick Stewart, Louis Gossett, Jr., Robert Duvall, Jack Nicholson, and Robert De Niro were all considered for the role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Jeremy Irons turned down the role. He'd just played Claus von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune (1990), and didn't want to play another dark character.
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Stayed on top of the U.S. box-office for five weeks.
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This is the only movie where Clarice (Jodie Foster) used the media nickname that they gave Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins). When she is talking with Jack (Scott Glenn) about who is the subject she is to interview, she says "Hannibal the Cannibal", but throughout the rest of the movie, and in Hannibal (2001), she (Julianne Moore) calls him "Dr. Lecter", except when she says "Hannibal Lecter" to Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini), to tell him for whom she is looking. She respects him, so she always says "Dr. Lecter", even when she's not speaking to him directly.
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The movie's line "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti." was voted as the number twenty-one movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of one hundred). This line is taken almost verbatim from the book, but in the book, Dr. Hannibal Lecter says a nice Amarone instead of Chianti. Both are types of wine.
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Orion Pictures' decision to promote this movie as a 1991 Oscar contender resulted in having to choose between two other releases later in the year: Little Man Tate (1991) and Blue Sky (1994). As Orion Pictures executives planned to promote Jodie Foster as a Best Actress nominee, they decided to give her some extra exposure by releasing the former movie, in which she appeared, and directed. Foster ended up winning Best Actress. Blue Sky (1994) ended up waiting three more years to be released, but when it did, it resulted in Jessica Lange also winning a Best Actress Oscar.
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Gene Siskel was the only mainstream critic to give this Best Picture winner a negative review.
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For this movie's sequel and prequel, characters appearing in the mental hospital were never re-cast: Anthony Heald returned in Red Dragon (2002), and Sir Anthony Hopkins and Frankie Faison returned for that movie and Hannibal (2001). All of the FBI employees, however, were re-cast in the sequel and prequel: Jodie Foster was replaced by Julianne Moore, Scott Glenn with Harvey Keitel, and Ron Vawter with Ray Liotta.
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Ed Harris turned down the role of Jack Crawford because he didn't find the role interesting, and would rather have played Dr. Hannibal Lecter. He partially got his wish when he played a jailed serial killer who assists in solving a murder in Just Cause (1995).
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This movie was originally scheduled for release in the fall of 1990. Orion Pictures delayed its release until late January 1991 so they could focus on promoting Dances with Wolves (1990) for Oscar consideration. This movie won all five major Academy Awards, a notable exception to the conventional wisdom that movies released early in a calendar year are forgotten by Oscar time.
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Part of Jodie Foster's deal for doing this movie was that Orion Pictures would allow her to direct a movie. She directed Little Man Tate (1991).
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According to director Jonathan Demme, there were 300 applicants for the role of Clarice Starling. Meg Ryan and Michelle Pfeiffer turned the role down because of the disturbing subject matter. Brooke Smith (who ended up playing Catherine Martin) and Nicole Kidman read for the part.
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Entertainment Weekly voted this as the fourth scariest movie of all time.
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Director Jonathan Demme cast Sir Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter based on his performance as Dr. Frederick Treves in The Elephant Man (1980). Hopkins has said that he felt the sharing-and-caring role of Dr. Frederick Treves was rather dull.
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The revolver that Jame Gumb (Ted Levine) used was a Colt Python, which is a double action. That means in the dark scene all he would have had to do was pull the trigger, he would not have had to pull the hammer back.
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The first movie widely available on home video at the time of the Academy Awards ceremony to win Best Picture.
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Orion Pictures snapped up the movie rights for $500,000.
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A copy of Bon Appétit Magazine can be seen in Dr. Hannibal Lecter's temporary cell.
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The events in this movie occur after the events in Manhunter (1986), which was based on Thomas Harris' novel "Red Dragon". Although there are several characters common to both movies, there are only two actors who appear in both movies. Both play different characters. Frankie Faison played Lieutenant Fisk in Manhunter (1986), and Barney in this movie, and Dan Butler played an FBI fingerprint expert in Manhunter (1986), and an entomologist in this movie.
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Director Jonathan Demme met with Robert Duvall to see if he would be a good fit for the part of Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
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The movie's poster was number sixteen of "The 25 Best Movie Posters Ever" by Premiere.
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Former FBI Special Agent John Edward Douglas, on whom the Jack Crawford character was based, achieved some fame of his own a few years after this movie. He was hired by the parents of JonBenét Ramsey to investigate her death and apparent murder. Up until that point, the parents had been the chief suspects in the case. While Douglas did not fault the local police for investigating the family first, as in this movie, investigators usually assume that victims know their killers, he became the first public official to proclaim their innocence.
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The third E.M.S. attendant treating Sergeant Pembry (Alex Coleman) is Jeff Busch, a paramedic and owner of a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania emergency vehicle company that detailed all of the emergency vehicles in this movie.
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In his first meeting with Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) describes the drawing on his cell wall as "the Duomo, seen from the Belvedere" in Florence, Italy. In Hannibal (2001), Lecter is living in Florence as a fugitive.
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The song heard playing while Jame Gumb (Ted Levine) does his dance is "Goodbye Horses" by Q. Lazzarus. More commonly-known versions of this song are performed by Psyche and by Mortal Loom sung by Ilja Rosendahl.
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Dan Butler played a role in two movies based on novels by Thomas Harris surrounding Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The first was in Manhunter (1986), based on Harris' novel "Red Dragon", where he played an F.B.I. fingerprint analyst. Here, he played Roden, the university entomologist who helped identify the Death's-head hawkmoth.
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Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center is a real facility near Montauk, New York.
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Dr. Hannibal Lecter said he ate a victim's liver with "some fava beans and nice chianti". Liver, fava beans, and wine all contain a substance called tyramine, which can kill a person who is taking a certain class of anti-depressant drugs, known as M.A.O. inhibitors. M.A.O. inhibitors were the first anti-depressants developed, and were used primarily on patients in mental institutions. Lecter worked in, and was committed to, a mental institution.
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Some of the scenes were filmed in Bellaire, Ohio, birthplace of Ted Levine (Jame Gumb/Buffalo Bill).
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Michelle Pfeiffer was Jonathan Demme's first choice to play Clarice Starling, after the two worked on Married to the Mob (1988), becoming close collaborators. After a long "courting" period of Demme in pursuit, and Pfeiffer considering playing the role, she ultimately turned it down, as she thought this movie to be too dark and violent.
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At age 29, Jodie Foster became the second youngest person to win two Academy Awards, behind Luise Rainer (age 28). She won twice for Best Actress for performances she gave at age 24 during filming of The Accused (1988) in the spring of 1987, and at age 26-turning-27 during filming of this movie in the winter of 1989 to 1990.
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Then Secretary of Labor, Elizabeth Dole's, Washington, D.C. office doubled for that of the FBI Director's office in this movie.
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During this movie, in a televised announcement by Senator Ruth Martin (Diane Baker), Martin pleads for her daughter's life, and repeatedly mentions her name, Catherine. The FBI agents and trainees who are watching the announcement remark that her repeated mentioning of Catherine's name is "smart", with Clarice (Jodie Foster) adding that the Senator's repeated use of her daughter's name could influence her kidnapper to see her daughter as a person, and not as a thing or object. This notion is in direct (and possibly deliberate) contrast with the way in which Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) addresses Catherine (Brooke Smith) during another scene by saying lines such as: "It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it's told", and "It places the lotion in the basket".
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At the beginning of the movie, when Clarice Starling is looking for Jack Crawford, who is investigating the killer known as "Buffalo Bill", the first office to which she goes has what appears to be notes about the investigation on a blackboard. Amongst them are two short quotations from the e.e. cummings poem "Buffalo Bill's / defunct": "1-2-3-4-5", and, near the bottom of the board (the right side of the board isn't visible): "how do you like, blue-eyed boy now". The latter appears to be quoting (slightly misquoting, actually) the final lines of the poem: "how do you like your blue-eyed boy / Mister Death."
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In an interview, John Carpenter declared his disappointment over the movie focusing so much on Clarice Starling's character, and that he would have loved to direct this, making it "much more frightening and gripping."
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Sir Sean Connery was Jonathan Demme's first choice to play Dr. Hannibal Lecter, but he turned the part down. Connery did a similar thriller, called Just Cause (1995), where Ed Harris played a serial killer. That movie was neither a critical, nor commercial smash like this movie.
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The second movie to feature the character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the first being Manhunter (1986), where Hannibal's last name was spelled "Lecktor", just like in the books.
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Australia's Office of Film & Literature Classification (O.F.L.C.) originally gave this movie an R-rating. The distributors lobbied for it be rated "M" without editing. The R-rating remained for two years, until the O.F.L.C. created a new movie rating, "MA15+", meaning people under fifteen years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. This movie was re-rated in 1993.
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Although this movie got rave reviews when it came out, Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel, who was notoriously hostile to horror movies slammed the movie and gave it only two stars. He said in his review: "Director (Jonathan) Demme superheats The Silence of the Lambs to the point of silliness, in terms of both gross behavior and a pulsating soundtrack. The conclusion of the film is nothing more than a grisly version of every mad-slasher picture you've ever missed. Jodie's in trouble. Shoot, Jodie, shoot." The movie of course went on to be a phenomenon, a huge box office hit; and the only horror movie to ever win the academy award. It is now considered one of the best horror movies ever made, and still has a huge cult following and fan base. Roger Ebert, Siskel's fellow film critic and sparring partner on "At the Movies" would continue to ridicule Gene for "missing the boat" on this movie for years after this.
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Michael Keaton, Mickey Rourke, and Sir Kenneth Branagh were all considered for the role of Jack Crawford.
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In one scene, Catherine Martin is shown speeding along in her car singing American Girl by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Brooke Smith (Catherine Martin) was a fan of New York City hardcore, and had wanted the producers to use a Bad Brains song instead. The other song in consideration for that scene was Rufus and Chaka Khan's "Tell Me Something Good".
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Inspiration for the song "Buffalo Bill" by Eminem.
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Despite the fact that this was filmed in the standard spherical format, "Filmed in Panavision" is listed in the end credits.
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Dedicated to Trey Wilson.
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In the second draft of Ted Tally's screenplay, the names of three characters had to be changed from Thomas Harris' novel for legal reasons: Jack Crawford became Ray Campbell, Dr. Frederick Chilton became Herbert Prentiss, and Dr. Hannibal Lecter became Gideon Quinn.
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Fangoria Magazine was declined the chance to cover this movie because Orion Pictures and the filmmakers felt that the magazine's focus on the horror genre would stigmatize its awards season chances. They were also barred from covering Cape Fear (1991) for similar reasons.
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The "death head" marking on the moth is a reference to Edgar Allan Poe's famous short story "The Gold Bug", which also featured an insect with a skull-like pattern on its back.
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When Agent Starling goes through Fredrica Bimmel's closet and closes the room's door, a promotional poster for Deborah Harry's 1989 solo album "Def, Dumb & Blonde" can be seen on the bedroom wall. Jonathan Demme is a fan of Debbie Harry.
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DIRECTOR CAMEO (Jonathan Demme): Wearing a blue cap at the end of this movie.
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According to an old news article that Starling reads on microfilm, "Judge Detox" presided over Dr. Hannibal Lecter's murder trial.
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Included amongst the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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Dr. Hannibal Lecter's original line from the book is, "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a big Amarone".
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(At around thirty-nine minutes) The song playing during the funeral is "Rock of Ages".
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The only movie that year to be nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars, it won both awards.
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When Clarice is researching Dr. Hannibal Lecter's background, Crawford is mentioned in the articles, but Will Graham, who actually identified and captured him, is not. It is unlikely that the press would have reported Crawford's role more prominently than Graham's, since Manhunter (1986) and Red Dragon (2002) show that Freddy Lounds (Stephen Lang and Philip Seymour Hoffman) incurred Graham's and Crawford's wrath for photographing him while he was recovering in the hospital.
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Anthony Heald was originally cast as Roden, though he initially sought the role of Dr. Frederick Chilton, a character that was written as being older than Heald. However, after a table reading with Jodie Foster, where he filled in as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, he was then cast as Dr. Chilton.
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Sergeant Pembry's (Alex Coleman's) tie pin is a tiny pair of handcuffs.
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Jonathan Demme signed on as director after reading the novel.
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Along with It Happened One Night (1934) and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975) this film is one of three films to win all 5 Major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay), ironically in all three films a character instructs another character to "put" or "throw" something "in the basket"
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Gay rights protesters complained that making Jame Gumb a transsexual was highly clichéd and a reflection of and/or pandering to public hostilities around the issue of sexual orientation. This is despite it being said in this movie that Gumb only thinks he's a transsexual due to trauma, and that transsexuals are usually quite passive.
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This movie is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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The reference to Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) having had a past homosexual relationship (mentioned during Dr. Hannibal Lecter's (Sir Anthony Hopkins') conversation with Senator Ruth Martin (Diane Baker)) was not in the novel.
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The three male leads (Sir Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, and Ted Levine) have all worked with Jodie Foster's replacement, Julianne Moore. Levine appeared with her in Evolution (2001), Glenn in The Shipping News (2001), and Hopkins in Surviving Picasso (1996), on account of which he recommended her for the role in Hannibal (2001). Dan Butler also worked with her in Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011).
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Included amongst the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Anthony Heald has since gone on to play Dr. Frederick Treves in a successful stage production of The Elephant Man, a role which Sir Anthony Hopkins played in The Elephant Man (1980).
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As at 31st March 1992 it became only the third film to make a sweep of the big five Oscars Film, Director, Actor, Actress and Adapted Screenplay. The two previous films were 'It Happened One Night' (1934) and 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' (1975).
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Besides Clarice and Catherine, Buffalo Bill doesn't interact with anyone else.
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The only movie in which Jodie Foster won an acting Oscar for her performance in a movie which also won Best Picture.
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Clarice Starling's car is a 1975 Ford Pinto.
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The character of Jame Gumb inspired the song "Lady in the Pit" by Bonecage.
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This movie was briefly considered for a direct-to-video release as studio executives felt that the subject matter was too distasteful to be marketed to a mass audience. It was subsequently released on Valentine's Day (an unusual release date for a horror movie) and remained at number one at the box-office for five weeks. Despite the controversy generated by this movie's grisly themes and depiction of transsexualism, this movie became the fourth highest grossing movie of 1991. Its subsequent win for Best Picture at the Academy Awards was also considered largely atypical, given the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' affinity for period movies at the time.
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Buffalo Bill drives a 1979 Dodge Tradesman MaxiVan (B-200).
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The second time Sir Anthony Hopkins played a doctor. He did so previously in The Elephant Man (1980).
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This movie is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #13.
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As of 2015, The Godfather: Part II (1974) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) were the only sequels to win Best Picture. This movie qualifies as well, since it is a sequel to Manhunter (1986). Even if one does not accept this argument, there are some parallels between this franchise and the two others. Like The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), it was scored by Howard Shore, and won three of the same Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Medium. Both featured a former child star (Jodie Foster, Elijah Wood, and Sean Astin), and both had a climax in which that character confronted a villain (Buffalo Bill, Gollum) who was threatened by the loss of his "Precious" (in this movie, a dog, in the other, the One Ring). Sean Astin's father is John Astin, who played Foster's father in Freaky Friday (1976). He also appeared in the parody movie, The Silence of the Hams (1994). Both movies were followed by prequels (Red Dragon (2002); The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), both of which featured a dragon as the villain. Richard Armitage, who appeared in The Hobbit movies, also played Francis Dolarhyde (the Red Dragon) on Hannibal (2013). Roger Corman appeared in this movie and The Godfather: Part II (1974), while Gianni Russo, who played Carlo Rizzi in The Godfather (1972), and The Godfather: Part II (1974), appeared briefly in Red Dragon (2002).
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This movie features two actors that have portrayed Alan Shepard, the first American in space, Scott Glenn and Ted Levine. Glenn played Shepard in The Right Stuff (1983), and Levine played him in the HBO mini-series From the Earth to the Moon (1998).
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Clarice Starling's revolver is the then-standard F.B.I.-issue Smith & Wesson Model 13 chambered in .357 Magnum, with a three-inch barrel, this firearm was the last revolver issued by the F.B.I. (usually loaded with .38 Special +P .158 grain lead LHP ammo). Starling is shown being issued her Model 13 and training with it on the range in several deleted scenes. She is also seen doing a quick reload of her revolver with a speedloader after she opens fire on a suspect and expends all six rounds. When Starling fires her weapon at the suspect, there is noticeable recoil and she flinches. However, when she fires it on the range in the deleted scenes, there is absolutely no recoil, and she keeps her eyes open. This could indicate multiple weapons were used on the set.
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Buffalo Bill's dog "Precious" is a Mini Poodle.
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Catherine's car is a 1974 Volvo 164.
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When Clarice (Jodie Foster) visits Dr. Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald) after the autopsy, he calls her (what sounds like) "Scully" instead of Starling. Agent Scully in The X-Files (1993) was based on Clarice.
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In this movie, the audience is led to believe that the storage unit Clarice Starling investigates, belonging to a "Hester Mofet", actually belongs to Dr. Hannibal Lecter. However, in the book, the unit actually belongs to flutist Benjamin Raspail, one of Dr. Hannibal Lecter's victims.
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Sir Anthony Hopkins played Sir Alfred Hitchcock in Hitchcock (2012). Diane Baker worked with Hitchcock in Marnie (1964).
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In the scene near the end, when Jack Crawford is speaking to Clarice from a plane, before she enters the killer's house, you can see that the three men shown in the scene on the plane are all left-handed.
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Don Brockett and Chuck Aber played recurring characters on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968) in the "real" neighborhood, as well as the "Neighborhood of Make-Believe".
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The air ambulance seen in the hangar at Memphis International Airport is a Short 330.
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Released eight days away from Jonathan Demme's forty-seventh birthday.
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Director Jonathan Demme worked with Scott Glenn on Angels Hard as They Come (1971) and Fighting Mad (1976).
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Brooke Smith (Catherine Martin) and Kevin McKidd (Petras Kolnas in Hannibal Rising (2007)) have played doctors on Grey's Anatomy (2005).
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Sir Anthony Hopkins and Charles Napier have appeared in movies featuring the characters of Thor and The Incredible Hulk. Napier, who voiced the title character in The Incredible Hulk (1978), appeared in The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988). Hopkins appeared in Thor (2011), Thor: The Dark World (2013), and Thor: Ragnarök (2017). Edward Norton, who appeared in Red Dragon (2002), appeared in The Incredible Hulk (2008).
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Hannibal Lecter was not originally supposed to be British. The character is actually from Baltimore, not London. Gene Hackman, an American actor, was originally supposed to play this role, before he backed out at the last second; and Brian Cox, another American actor, played him in the tv movie Manhunter, which came out in the mid 80s. But Anthony Hopkins so owned the role that they changed it for him. Similar situations happened during the movie Carrie. The original story takes place in Maine ( in the book), but then Sissy Spacek was cast, and she totally inhabited the role. But she also had a thick southern accent; so they changed the movie location from Maine to North Carolina, and gave the mother a thick accent too, to match her daughter's. Same thing happened in Grease when they made Sandy, who was originally a Chicagoan, into an Aussie, so the part would be customized for Aussie Olivia Newton John. Same thing happened in Cabaret when Liza Minelli's Sally Bowles character was transformed from a Berliner, which is what she was in the book, to a Brit, which is how Julie Christie played her in I Am Camera, and the character was also English in the Broadway show; and then when Liza played her in the movie she was changed to an American. Bruce Willis' character was changed from a snooty, bitter, middle aged British alcoholic in Bonfire of the Vanities, to a tough, young, streetwise Brooklyn smart alek.
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Cameo 

Roger Corman: The veteran filmmaker, and President of New World Pictures, played FBI Director Hayden Burke.
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Chris Isaak: S.W.A.T. team commander.
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George A. Romero: The bearded man who accompanies Dr. Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald) and the two guards, who forcibly remove Clarice (Jodie Foster) after her final meeting with Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins). In addition, Dave Early from Dawn of the Dead (1978) appears as one of the S.W.A.T. team.
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Ted Tally: The FBI tactical team member with the mustache and glasses, during the raid near the end of the movie.
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Edward Saxon: Head in jar.
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Kenneth Utt: The coroner.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

During Clarice's first meeting with Dr. Chilton, he mentions that when Dr. Hannibal Lecter attacked a nurse, his pulse "never got above eighty-five". While Dr. Hannibal Lecter is escaping in the ambulance, the paramedic mentions over the intercom that the patient has a pulse of eighty-four, again showing Dr. Hannibal Lecter's icy calmness, despite performing horrible acts.
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Dr. Hannibal Lecter's drawing of Clarice (shown in his temporary cell in Memphis, Tennessee) features three crosses in the background, with only one showing a man crucified. The drawing purposefully makes Clarice look older with jowls, creases under her eyes, and a gray streak in her hair. Of course, in her arms is the lamb she had tried to rescue. In essence, Dr. Hannibal Lecter is trying to suggest the statue The Pieta, which features Mary holding the body of Jesus (the Lamb of God) in her arms.
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As revealed on the Blu-ray documentaries "Breaking The Silence" and "From Page To Screen", this movie's beginning and ending were altered. Ted Tally's screenplay called for this movie to begin with an FBI raid not unlike the one featured in the opening sequence of Hannibal (2001). Thomas Harris' book ends with Dr. Hannibal Lecter writing a threatening letter to Dr. Frederick Chilton. Ted Tally and Jonathan Demme decided it would be necessary for Dr. Hannibal Lecter to track Dr. Chilton to a tropical island for a more dramatic and audience pleasing closing, plus an all-expense studio-paid trip to shoot somewhere warm. (The final scene was shot on the island of Bimini, which is part of the Bahamas.)
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The position of Lieutenant Boyle's body after Dr. Hannibal Lecter has disemboweled and hung him from the cell was inspired by the work of painter Francis Bacon.
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In his first meeting with Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) describes the drawing on his cell wall as "the Duomo, seen from the Belvedere" in Florence, Italy. Starling later finds Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) living in Belvedere, Ohio. In Hannibal (2001), Clarice (Julianne Moore) discovers that Dr. Hannibal Lecter has been living under an alias in Florence.
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After the shoot-out with Jame Gumb (Ted Levine), Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) has partially-burned gunpowder buried in the skin on the side of her face, the result of a near hit. One name for this type of injury is "coal miner's tattoo", a reference to the character's background.
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When Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) first discovers Catherine Martin (Brooke Smith) in the well in Jame Gumb's (Ted Levine's) basement, Martin's gown, wide-eyed fear, and holding Gumb's white poodle "Precious", can be seen as a direct mirror of Starling's own childhood memory of trying to save a lamb. Catherine refuses to give up the dog after being rescued.
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When Jame Gumb grabs the gun in his bed, right after Catherine captures his dog, you can see that the bed sheet has two stitched Nazi swastikas, showing another layer of the killer's character. Sometime after that, there is yet another swastika half hidden by a picture on the wall.
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Body Count: eight. However, only two deaths occur on-screen, the rest are off-screen.
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During the closing credits, if you look very closely at Dr. Hannibal Lecter when he is in the far distance, amongst the crowd, his hat falls off his head, and he quickly picks it up. This happens a little before the screen fades to black.
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In the movie, it is said that Miggs (Stuart Rudin) died by swallowing his own tongue. This is physically impossible to do, unless the tongue has been cut off. It's not particularly fatal, either. This is a figure of speech, referring to an unconscious person suffocating because his tongue has blocked his airway, being used incorrectly. It is also possible that Miggs bit off his own tongue and swallowed (choked on) it at Dr. Hannibal Lecter's (Sir Anthony Hopkins') urging.
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This movie has many "cat" clues in the first victim's house that seem to lead Clarice to the identity of the killer, and to where Catherine Martin might be. There's a photo of Frederika (the first victim) and her cat, and then a cat figurine by the jewelry box with Polaroid photos. And the pet cat seems to lead Clarice to the wardrobe with the diamond-shaped dress taping that resembled the skinning of one of the victims. Notably, the name "Catherine" has the word "cat" in it.
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While Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) shows the most similarity to necrophiliac and murderer Ed Gein (most obviously with his making a "woman suit"), Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) also takes a note from Gein. At the end part of his escape plan is to wear the skin of Sergeant Pembry's (Alex Coleman's) face to disguise himself. Gein was known to wear the faces of the dead women he mutilated, which also inspired Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).
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In an early version of Ted Tally's screenplay, Dr. Hannibal Lecter's courthouse escape plan is revealed, when the head of the S.W.A.T. team recognizes the body.
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An alternate ending showed Dr. Hannibal Lecter on the phone with Clarice, and after he hung up, Dr. Frederick Chilton was shown tied up in a chair. Dr. Hannibal Lecter, holding a knife, would tell him "Shall we begin?", before the camera fades to black. Director Jonathan Demme deemed this ending to be too "icky", and had it changed to the now iconic ending where Dr. Hannibal Lecter follows Dr. Chilton through the village.
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In the FBI Academy training exercise scene, Clarice Starling forgets to check behind her after entering a room and an instructor behind her puts a gun to her head and "kills" her. At the climax, when Buffalo Bill sneaks up behind her in the dark and cocks his Colt Python, she hears the sound, turns, and shoots him to death.
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Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) is only shown killing two people on-screen, Sergeant Pembry (Alex Coleman) and Lieutenant Boyle (Charles Napier) (the ambulance crew and a tourist were off-screen).
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Except for Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter's fingers touching during the case file exchange in Memphis, Tennessee, the two characters have absolutely no physical contact throughout the entire movie.
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The final lines are not delivered by Clarice as she repeats, "Dr. Lecter?... Dr. Lecter?... Dr. Lecter?... Dr. Lecter?", but rather, it is Dr. Chilton who delivers the last dialogue: "Hey, what? Oh, excuse me. I'm sorry. Is the security system all set up?....Thank you. I appreciate that."
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Every step of Dr. Hannibal Lecter's elaborate prison break foreshadows some aspect of Buffalo Bill's method of operation, possibly hinting that he was trying to leave Starling a few clues before he vanished. First, he mutilates one of the guards by tearing flaps of skin from his back and splaying them out like wings, hinting at Bill's obsession with moths. Then he gets out of prison by cutting off a guard's face and using it as a mask, hinting at Bill's desire to change his identity by making a suit from women's skin. Finally, he confuses the Police by switching clothes with one of the guards and throwing the guard's corpse into an elevator shaft, much like Bill moves into his victim's house to confuse anyone who finds his old house. Even the poster counts as this, it shows a moth covering the mouth of a ghostly female face. Part of Bill's method of operation is placing a moth in the mouths of the women he kills.
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In the airport scene, Sgt Petry is not the same person as Sgt Pembry in the escape scene.
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