"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice bottle of Chianti...phif-phif-phif-phif-phif."
Description: Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the motion picture Silence of the Lambs (1990).
Dr. Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter, a former psychiatrist is a demented serial killer who has been captured and placed behind bars in an isolation cell at Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
When another serial killer goes on a rampage, kidnapping and murdering women across the Midwest, FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) visits Lecter hoping to gain some insights into the mind of a killer.
Before approaching Dr. Lecter, the hospital warden Dr Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald) instructs Agent Starling on how to act when she meets him."
"Do not touch the glass. Do not approach the glass. You pass him nothing but soft paper - no pencils or pens. No staples or paperclips in his paper. Use the sliding food carrier, no exceptions. If he attempts to pass you anything, do not accept it. Do you understand me?"
Clarice meets with Lecter so she can save the life of a Catherine Martin, the daughter of United States Senator Ruth Martin who has been kidnapped by a psychopathic former tailor dubbed "Buffalo Bill" who is making a "woman suit" from skin of his victims.
As Agent Starling approaches Lecter, he stands silent in the middle of his cell with hands by his side. Upon seeing Agent Starling, Lecter offers this clinical evaluation:
“You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste. Good nutrition has given you some length of bone, but you’re not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you, Agent Starling? And that accent you’ve tried so desperately to shed? Pure West Virginia. What’s your father, dear? Is he a coal miner? Does he stink of the lamp? You know how quickly the boys found you...all those tedious sticky fumblings in the back seats of cars...while you could only dream of getting out...getting anywhere...getting all the way to the FBI.”
Responding to Lecter's "keen observations" Clarice counters, "You see a lot, Doctor. But are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself? What about it? Why don't you - why don't you look at yourself and write down what you see? Or maybe you're afraid to?"
|Lecter:||Why do you think he removes their skins, Agent Starling? Enthrall me with your acumen.|
|Clarice:||It excites him. Most serial killers keep some sort of trophies from their victims.|
|Clarice:||No. No, you ate yours.|
At the conclusion of their chat, Dr. Lecter tells Clarice, “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice bottle of Chianti...phif-phif-phif-phif-phif.”
Despite his horrific behavior, Agent Darling keeps her cool and after promising to have Lecter transferred to a Tennessee facility, Lecter begins to admire the courageous young FBI agent and soon offers bits of advice, like:
"Look for severe childhood disturbances associated with violence. Our Billy wasn't born a criminal, Clarice. He was made one through years of systematic abuse. Billy hates his own identity, you see, and he thinks that makes him a transsexual. But his pathology is a thousand times more savage and more terrifying."
Eventually, Agent Starling obtains the insights she needs to track and terminate the serial killer who is identified as James Gumb. Clarice finds his victim Catherine Martin in a deep pit under Gumb's home where he forced her to rub lotion on her skin to keep it subtle until the time he decided to harvest her skin for fabric.("Put the lotion in the basket.") If she refused, he turned on a hose and dowsed her with cold water.
Meanwhile, Dr. Lecter escapes from custody and makes a phone call to say goodbye to Clarice while she attends her FBI graduation party. Hannibal hangs up before his call can be traced, but not before saying, “I do wish we could chat longer but I’m having an old friend for dinner. Bye” The "old friend" refers to the vacationing Dr. Frederick Chilton who taunted Lecter in Baltimore, but who is now being stalked by Lecter through the streets of the Bahamas.
Note: In National Lampoon's spoof of "Lethal Weapon" Loaded Weapon 1 (1993) a character named Dr. Harrold Leacher parodies Hannibal Lecter's famous line, saying, "I would love to eat his cookies with some fava beans and a nice chilled Fresca. [licks lips]