"The Silence of the Lambs": Who said it?


About This Quiz

Granted, Hannibal Lecter got all the best lines in this 1991 movie -- Who can forget the "fava beans and a nice Chianti" joke? But there was a high-quality cast of characters in this crime thriller. See if you can remember who said what!

"I'm having an old friend for dinner."

Lecter has called Starling from an unidentified tropical setting, where he's watching Dr. Chilton. Chilton has gone into hiding from Lecter for exactly this reason -- to avoid gastronomic revenge -- but he didn't hide well enough.

"Do not touch the glass, do not approach the glass. If he attempts to pass you anything do not accept it."

After Starling rebuffs his attempts to flirt with her, Chilton becomes all business. He rattles off a series of intimidating rules about dealing with Lecter.

"Closer, please ... closer."

Lecter has asked to see Starling's FBI credentials. She is unwilling to "approach the glass" (she remembers the rules), but Lecter wants to read her badge, so she does.

"You fly back to school, little Starling."

Starling has taken her best shot at getting the doctor to take the FBI's psychological inventory, but he won't. Little does she know that the questionnaire was only a ruse to get Lecter interested in the Buffalo Bill case.

"Starling, Clarice M. Good morning."

Crawford greets Starling in a very formal style. This will be a key to their growing relationship. Though they become mentor and student and work closely together, they always stay within the boundaries of the Bureau's professional standards.

"Bill Skins Fifth!"

Starling sees the tabloid headline on a bulletin board -- aka "serial killer wall" -- in the Behavioral Sciences building. The "Bill" of the headline is the serial killer Buffalo Bill, not yet known to be Jame Gumb.

"Do you spook easily, Starling?"

Crawford is preparing Starling for her trip to the asylum in Baltimore, where she'll interview Lecter. He's right to ask: the asylum basement is really disturbing, like a medieval jail.

"Hannibal the Cannibal."

It's unlike Starling to repeat a nickname that's in poor taste. The screenwriter likely scripted this line for exposition's sake, to reveal the fact that Lecter ate his victims .

"If he won't cooperate, I just want straight reporting."

What Crawford is telling Starling is not to analyze Lecter if he won't cooperate, just to report on what she sees, like the sketches Lecter is making. In the book, Crawford adds that the FBI has many "inaccessible subject" analyses of Lecter, and none of them agree or seem worthwhile.

"Oh, he's a monster. A pure psychopath. So rare to catch one alive."

Chilton runs the Baltimore State Hospital. He seems to be trying to impress Starling with his knowledge of Lecter, and trying to shock her with details of Lecter's ugly crimes. Starling remains unshaken.

"I can smell your [totally unprintable term]."

Miggs whispers something nasty to Starling, but in a way, it's helpful to her. Lecter asks her what Miggs said to her, and Starling repeats it verbatim. Lecter appreciates that she is honest about it; for a moment, she seems to be establishing rapport.

"Are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself?"

Starling is using a kind of reverse-psychology goad on Lecter, suggesting that if he can analyze other people so cold-bloodedly, he should be able to do that to himself as well. Lecter, though, doesn't take the bait.

"Say, are you about a size 14?"

Gumb is talking to his next victim, the senator's daughter, Catherine Baker Martin. She's been unwise enough to climb into his van, and this is where things start to go really wrong.

"It's the sort of thing Miggs would say."

The "Multiple" in "Multiple Miggs's" name wasn't for a multiple personality, so no, he wasn't talking in the third person. (Plus, he's dead now). Rather, Starling is putting Lecter in his place after he somewhat crudely suggests that Crawford is sexually interested in her.

"Best thing for him, really. His therapy was going nowhere."

Lecter is talking about Benjamin Raspail, the man whose head Starling found in a jar in a storage unit. Raspail, a patient of Lecter's, was involved with and killed by Jame Gumb -- information Lecter is keeping to himself.

"Sheriff, this kind of sex crime has aspects I'd just as soon discuss in private, you know what I mean?"

Crawford is strongly implying that he and the sheriff should move out of earshot of Starling, the only woman in a room full of deputies. Actually, it's the opposite: he wants the sheriff away from all the deputies, so that the sheriff won't have to act the big man in front of his men and stonewall the FBI.

"No fair, you lured him with produce!"

Roden and Pilcher are playing a speed chess game in which they use a bug as a timer: the player's move has to be made in the time it takes for the bug to cross the board. Roden has used produce to make the insect move faster.

"You may swim in the ocean for up to one hour. Under SWAT team surveillance, of course."

Starling has been sent by Jack Crawford with an offer of an upgrade to a better facility and an annual "vacation" to Plum Island. Unfortunately, the offer is fake, and Chilton is about to reveal that fact to the doctor.

"Billy is not a real transsexual. He thinks he is; he tries to be."

Lecter is talking to Starling about Jame Gumb, using the name "Billy." He explains that Billy hates his own identity, giving him the confused idea that he hates his gender and wants to change it.

"I rolled the dice. I had to."

Crawford is talking to a Justice Department higher-up, apologizing for sending the fake offer to Lecter and saying it was from Senator Martin. Unfortunately, when this plan falls apart, Lecter is transferred to Memphis, Tennessee, under Chilton's care -- which will lead to his escape.

"Buffalo Bill's real name is Louis Friend."

Lecter tells Ruth Martin and the assembled Justice Department officials that "Louis Friend" has kidnapped her daughter. It's not true, of course: "Louis Friend" is an anagram for "iron sulfide" or fool's gold, as Starling realizes. (Sidebar: props if you caught the "Fight Club" joke in the answers).

"Take this THING back to Baltimore."

Martin has come home to Tennessee from Washington, D.C.hoping that Lecter will provide information that will save her daughter's life. At first, Lecter seems to cooperate, but then needles her about her daughter's impending death -- which justifiably angers Martin a great deal.

"Love your suit."

Lecter is still provoking Ruth Martin. Or maybe he's sincere. In the books, Thomas Harris makes clear that Lecter has very good aesthetic taste.

"Tell me his name, Doctor."

Starling visits Lecter in Memphis on her own initiative. She knows that "Louis Friend" is a ruse and is trying to get Lecter to come clean. As the cops drag her away, she asks Lecter more than once to tell her Buffalo Bill's real name.

"Do we seek out things to covet?"

Before the cops take Starling away, Lecter gives her clues to Gumb's identity. The point he's making is that "we covet what we see every day" -- suggesting Buffalo Bill knew his first victim.

"Get me a live telephone line or the dog's dead!"

Resourceful Catherine has lured Precious, Jame's poodle, into the well with her. She's trying to negotiate for her freedom using the dog.

"Wonder what he wants for breakfast? Some damn thing from the zoo?"

Boyle was played by Charles Napier. The role is memorable if only for the way Lecter displays the body, on the outside of the cage with his arms spread like an angel -- one of the movie's signature images.

"Ready when you are, Sergeant Pembry."

Lecter says this just before attacking and killing both Officers Pembry and Boyle.

"Hot damn, Clarice."

Ardelia and Clarice have just realized what Lecter was getting at in Memphis -- that Buffalo Bill knew his first victim. The role of Ardelia was a fairly minor and unoriginal one, the supportive best friend. But Kasi Lemmons, went on to be a director, making the critically-acclaimed "Caveman's Valentine."

"He's making a woman suit out of real women!"

Clarice comes to understand this after seeing fabric darts on an unfinished dress the first victim was making. The diamond-shaped darts resemble the pieces of skin taken from the victim that Starling saw close up in West Virginia.

"Was she a great, fat person?"

Gumb is pretending to barely remember his first victim, Frederica Bimmel. Yes, he actually calls her "a great, fat person."

"There's no one here, Jack."

Crawford gets a bad address for Jame Gumb and goes to an empty house. Starling found the right one by accident: She was trying to find "Mrs. Lippman," a tailor who knew Fredrica Bimmel.


OK, this one was hard, but it's included because it's such a classic thriller line, almost a cliche. After realizing they're at the wrong address, Crawford looks up and gravely says "Clarice," as though it's a done deal that if they're not at Jame Gumb's house, Clarice is -- something that Crawford doesn't have nearly enough information to deduce. (For a good parody of this, see the "Cockamouse" episode of "How I Met Your Mother.")

"FBI, you're safe."

This line got laughs in the theater, because at the time she says it, Starling is pointing her gun in every direction, wide-eyed, not knowing where Jame Gumb has gone. A moment later she tries a bit of bluffing, referring loudly to "the other officers" arriving any minute.

"Dr. Lecter? Dr. Lecter? Dr. Lecter?"

Poor Starling -- so composed and competent throughout the movie, but it ends with her ineffectually repeating Lecter's name into a dead phone. He's off in pursuit of Chilton, whom Barney will later call "the late Dr. Chilton .... seven years late, anyway." (This was in "Hannibal," the book sequel.

About Zoo

Our goal at Zoo.com is to keep you entertained in this crazy life we all live.

We want you to look inward and explore new and interesting things about yourself. We want you to look outward and marvel at the world around you. We want you to laugh at past memories that helped shape the person you’ve become. We want to dream with you about all your future holds. Our hope is our quizzes and articles inspire you to do just that.

Life is a zoo! Embrace it on Zoo.com.

Explore More Quizzes