Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Silence of the Lambs

One of the movies I DVRed when DirecTV had the free preview of the Epix channels was Silence of the Lambs. I'd never done a post on it, and it's already 28 years old. When TCM started, it was movies released in 1966 that were 28 years old, so Silence of the Lambs is certainly beginning to get up there in terms of "older" movies.

Anthony Hopkins is well-remembered for his turn as Hannibal Lecter, but we start with some of the other main characters, notably Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster). She's going through her training to become an FBI agent, hoping to work in Behavioral Science. She's in luck, as the head of that unit, Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), calls her in from training with a special assignment. She's to go see Lecter, who is in a maximum-security facility in Baltimore, and do a scientific survey on him.

Starling realizes this is a ruse, but for what she doesn't know. And Crawford doesn't tell her until later because he says that if she had known, Lecter would have realized what she was really there for and there goes Crawford's work. As for Lecter, he's in a basement behind a bunch of glass because he really is a dangerous figure, a psychiatrist who can be a master manipulator, extremely bright, and convicted of cannibalistic murders.

Anyhow, the reason why Crawford sent Starling is because he's trying to get information on another serial killer, known as "Buffalo Bill" (Ted Levine). He's killed several young women, and when the bodies are found, they're all missing large patches of skin. And Buffalo Bill is at it again, having kidnapped Caroline Martin (Brooke Smith). It's bad enough that there's a serial killer on the loose, but this time he's gone and kidnapped the daughter of a sitting Senator, Ruth Martin (Diane Baker).

Crawford comes up with a bold gambit, but one that ultimately backfires. Lecter unsurprisingly hates being not just in a cell, but one that's underground and offers no natural light, so Crawford claims the Senator has agreed to a deal to let Lector be kept in a prison on an island where the US military has done animal testing. However, the head of the facility, Dr. Chilton (Anthony Heald), has it in for Crawford and wants personal glory, so he scuppers the deal and gets Lecter sent to Sen. Martin's home state of Tennessee.

Dr. Chilton being an officious jerk, his scheme fairly quickly goes awry, leading Lecter to escape while Starling and Crawford are in different parts of the country still trying to find Buffalo Bill. No spoilers; I won't give the rest away.

The Silence of the Lambs is well-known for having swept the Oscars, a fact which, after watching, somewhat surprises me. Not that the movie isn't good enough or not Oscar-worthy, but because it's a genre of movie that I wouldn't have expected the Academy to like. Foster and Hopkins are both excellent in their roles, although I was surprised that Hopkins' role seemed relatively smaller than I would have expected.

I can enthusiatically recommend The Silence of the Lambs, which you can find in several DVD and Blu-ray releases as well as various streaming services.

No comments: