Clarice Starling Quotes in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)


Clarice Starling Quotes:

  • [last lines]

    Hannibal Lecter: [on telephone] I do wish we could chat longer, but... I'm having an old friend for dinner. Bye.

    Clarice Starling: Dr. Lecter?... Dr. Lecter?... Dr. Lecter?... Dr. Lecter?...

  • Hannibal Lecter: First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do, this man you seek?

    Clarice Starling: He kills women...

    Hannibal Lecter: No. That is incidental. What is the first and principal thing he does? What needs does he serve by killing?

    Clarice Starling: Anger, um, social acceptance, and, huh, sexual frustrations, sir...

    Hannibal Lecter: No! He covets. That is his nature. And how do we begin to covet, Clarice? Do we seek out things to covet? Make an effort to answer now.

    Clarice Starling: No. We just...

    Hannibal Lecter: No. We begin by coveting what we see every day. Don't you feel eyes moving over your body, Clarice? And don't your eyes seek out the things you want?

  • Hannibal Lecter: [shouts] No!

    [normal voice]

    Hannibal Lecter: I will listen now. After your father's murder, you were orphaned. You were ten years old. You went to live with cousins on a sheep and horse ranch in Montana. And...?

    Clarice Starling: [tears begin forming in her eyes] And one morning, I just ran away.

    Hannibal Lecter: No "just", Clarice. What set you off? You started at what time?

    Clarice Starling: Early, still dark.

    Hannibal Lecter: Then something woke you, didn't it? Was it a dream? What was it?

    Clarice Starling: I heard a strange noise.

    Hannibal Lecter: What was it?

    Clarice Starling: It was... screaming. Some kind of screaming, like a child's voice.

    Hannibal Lecter: What did you do?

    Clarice Starling: I went downstairs, outside. I crept up into the barn. I was so scared to look inside, but I had to.

    Hannibal Lecter: And what did you see, Clarice? What did you see?

    Clarice Starling: Lambs. The lambs were screaming.

    Hannibal Lecter: They were slaughtering the spring lambs?

    Clarice Starling: And they were screaming.

    Hannibal Lecter: And you ran away?

    Clarice Starling: No. First I tried to free them. I... I opened the gate to their pen, but they wouldn't run. They just stood there, confused. They wouldn't run.

    Hannibal Lecter: But you could and you did, didn't you?

    Clarice Starling: Yes. I took one lamb, and I ran away as fast as I could.

    Hannibal Lecter: Where were you going, Clarice?

    Clarice Starling: I don't know. I didn't have any food, any water and it was very cold, very cold. I thought, I thought if I could save just one, but... he was so heavy. So heavy. I didn't get more than a few miles when the sheriff's car picked me up. The rancher was so angry he sent me to live at the Lutheran orphanage in Bozeman. I never saw the ranch again.

    Hannibal Lecter: What became of your lamb, Clarice?

    Clarice Starling: They killed him.

  • Hannibal Lecter: 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's 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 is 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.

    Clarice Starling: 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.

  • Clarice Starling: Where are you, Dr. Lecter?

    Hannibal Lecter: I've no plans to call on you, Clarice. The world is more interesting with you in it.

  • Hannibal Lecter: Why do you think he removes their skins, Agent Starling?


    Hannibal Lecter: Enthrall me with your acumen.

    Clarice Starling: It excites him. Most serial killers keep some sort of trophies from their victims.

    Hannibal Lecter: I didn't.

    Clarice Starling: No. No, you ate yours.

  • Hannibal Lecter: You still wake up sometimes, don't you? You wake up in the dark and hear the screaming of the lambs.

    Clarice Starling: Yes.

    Hannibal Lecter: And you think if you save poor Catherine, you could make them stop, don't you? You think if Catherine lives, you won't wake up in the dark ever again to that awful screaming of the lambs.

    Clarice Starling: I don't know. I don't know.

    Hannibal Lecter: Thank you, Clarice. Thank you.

    Clarice Starling: Tell me his name, Doctor.

    Hannibal Lecter: Dr. Chilton, I presume. I think you know each other.

    Dr. Frederick Chilton: Okay. Let's go.

    Clarice Starling: It's your turn, Doctor.

    Dr. Frederick Chilton: Out!

    Clarice Starling: Tell me his name!

    Boyle: I'm sorry, ma'am. We've got orders. We have to put you on a plane. Come on, now.

    [Chilton and the guards start leading Clarice out]

    Hannibal Lecter: Brave Clarice. You will let me know when those lambs stop screaming, won't you?

    Clarice Starling: Tell me his name, Doctor!

    Hannibal Lecter: Clarice, your case file. Goodbye, Clarice.

  • Clarice Starling: [Hannibal Lecter has escaped] He won't come after me.

    Ardelia Mapp: Oh really?

    Clarice Starling: He won't. I can't explain it... He - he would consider that rude.

  • Hannibal Lecter: Jack Crawford is helping your career isn't he? Apparently he likes you and you like him too.

    Clarice Starling: I never thought about it.

    Hannibal Lecter: Do you think that Jack Crawford wants you sexually? True, he is much older but do you think he visualizes scenarios, exchanges, fucking you?

    Clarice Starling: That doesn't interest me Doctor and frankly, it's, it's the sort of thing that Miggs would say.

    Hannibal Lecter: Not anymore.

  • Jack Crawford: Starling, when I told that sheriff we shouldn't talk in front of a woman, that really burned you, didn't it? It was just smoke, Starling. I had to get rid of him.

    Clarice Starling: It matters, Mr Crawford. Cops look at you to see how to act. It matters.

    Jack Crawford: Point taken.

  • Clarice Starling: Did you do all these drawings, Doctor?

    Hannibal Lecter: Ah. That is the Duomo seen from the Belvedere. Do you know Florence?

    Clarice Starling: All that detail just from memory, sir?

    Hannibal Lecter: Memory, Agent Starling, is what I have instead of a view.

  • Ardelia Mapp: Is this Lecter's handwriting? "Clarice, doesn't this random scattering of sites seem desperately random - like the elaborations of a bad liar? Ta, Hannibal Lecter."

    Clarice Starling: "Desperately random." What does he mean?

    Ardelia Mapp: Not random at all, maybe. Like there's some pattern here...?

    Clarice Starling: But there is no pattern or the computers would've nailed it. They're even found in random order.

    Ardelia Mapp: Random because of the one girl. The one he weighted down.

    Clarice Starling: Oh, Fredrica Bimmel, from... Belvedere, Ohio. First girl taken, third body found. Why?

    Ardelia Mapp: 'Cause she didn't drift. He weighted her down.

    Clarice Starling: What did Lecter say about... first principles?

    Ardelia Mapp: Simplicity...

    Clarice Starling: What does this guy do, he "covets". How do we first start to covet?

    Ardelia Mapp: "We covet what we see -"

    Clarice Starling: " - every day."

    Ardelia Mapp: Hot damn, Clarice.

    Clarice Starling: He knew her.

  • Hannibal Lecter: Now then, tell me. What did Miggs say to you? Multiple Miggs in the next cell. He hissed at you. What did he say?

    Clarice Starling: He said, "I can smell your cunt."

    Hannibal Lecter: I see. I myself cannot. You use Evyan skin cream, and sometimes you wear L'Air du Temps, but not today.

  • Jack Crawford: Just do your job, but never forget what he is.

    Clarice Starling: And what is that?

    [cut to Clarice's first trip to the psychiatric prison]

    Dr. Frederick Chilton: Oh, he's a monster. Pure psychopath. So rare to capture one alive. From a research point of view, Lecter is our most prized asset.

  • Clarice Starling: If you didn't kill him, then who did, sir?

    Hannibal Lecter: Who can say. Best thing for him, really. His therapy was going nowhere.

  • Hannibal Lecter: "Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center." Sounds charming.

    Clarice Starling: That's only a part of the island. There's a very, very nice beach. Terns nest there. There's beautiful...

    Hannibal Lecter: [cuts her off] Terns? Mmh. If I help you, Clarice, it will be "turns" with us too. Quid pro quo. I tell you things, you tell me things. Not about this case, though. About yourself. Quid pro quo. Yes or no?


    Hannibal Lecter: Yes or no, Clarice? Poor little Catherine is waiting.

    Clarice Starling: Go, doctor.

  • Jack Crawford: I remember you from my seminar at UVA. You grilled me pretty hard, as I recall, on the bureau's civil rights record in the Hoover years. I gave you an A.

    Clarice Starling: A-minus, Sir.

  • Clarice Starling: [to Hannibal Lecter] Your anagrams are showing, Doctor. Louis Friend? Iron sulfide, also known as fool's gold.

  • Clarice Starling: Your name is?

    Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: Oh, uh Jack Gordon.

    Clarice Starling: Mr. Gordon, good, uh... well Frederica used to work for Mrs. Lippman. Did you know her?

    Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: No, nuh-uh. Oh wait... was she a great big fat person?

    Clarice Starling: Yeah she was a big girl, sir.

    Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: Yeah, I may've... no I read about her in the newspaper. Um, Mrs. Lippman had a son though, maybe he could help you. I got his card in here someplace. Do you wanna come in while I look for it?

    Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: Are you close to catching somebody you think?

    Clarice Starling: Yes. We may be. Did you... take over this place after Mrs. Lippman died, is that right?

    Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: Yeah I - I bought this house... two years ago.

    Clarice Starling: [looking around] Did she leave any records? Any business records, tax forms, lists of employees?

    Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: No, nothin' like that at all. Say, does the FBI learn somethin? The police around here don't seem to have the first clue.

    [Clarice notices a moth]

    Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: ... I mean have you got like a description, fingerprints, anything like that?

    Clarice Starling: No. No I don't.

    [Clarice unbuttons her gun holster]

    Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: Oh, here's that number!

    Clarice Starling: Very good Mr. Gordon. May I use your phone please?

    Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: [Gumb starts laughing] Sure you can use me phone.

    Clarice Starling: [draws her gun] Freeze! Put your hands over your head and turn around! Spread your legs! Spread your legs! Put your hands in the back... thumbs up - FREEZE!

    [Gumb runs off]

  • Clarice Starling: Hester Mofet. It's an anagram, isn't it, Doctor? Hester Mofet, "The rest of me". "Miss the rest of me," meaning that you rented that garage?

  • Murray: Is it true what they're sayin', he's some kinda vampire?

    Clarice Starling: They don't have a name for what he is.

  • Clarice Starling: But I thought the "yourself" reference was too hokey for Lecter, so I figured he's from Baltimore, and I looked in the phone book, and there's a "Your Self Storage" facility, right outside of downtown Baltimore, sir.

  • Clarice Starling: I graduated from UVa, Captain; it's not exactly a charm school.

  • Pilcher: What do you do when you're not detecting, Agent Starling?

    Clarice Starling: I try to be a student, Dr. Pilcher.

    Pilcher: Ever go out for cheeseburgers and beer? The amusing house wine?

    Clarice Starling: Are you hitting on me, doctor?

    Pilcher: Yes.

  • Clarice Starling: Catherine Martin?

    Catherine Martin: Yes?

    Clarice Starling: FBI! You're safe!

    Catherine Martin: Safe? Shit! Get me outta here!

    Clarice Starling: You're all right, Catherine. Now, where is he?

    Catherine Martin: How the fuck should I know? Just get me outta here!

    Clarice Starling: Catherine, you've gotta be quiet! Now, shut that dog up!

    Catherine Martin: Just get me outta here!

    Clarice Starling: Catherine, I'm gonna get you outta there, but right now you listen to me. I've gotta leave this room, I'll be right back.

    Catherine Martin: NO! DON'T YOU LEAVE ME HERE YOU FUCKIN' BITCH, NO! Don't you leave me here, this guy is fucking crazy!

  • Clarice Starling: The wig, the dress, the makeup. Raspail was a transvestite?

    Hannibal Lecter: In life? Oh, no. Garden-variety Manic Depressive. Tedious, very tedious. I did not kill him I assure you just tucked him away, very much as I found him, after he'd missed three appointments.

    Clarice Starling: If you didn't kill him, who did?

    Hannibal Lecter: Who can say? Best thing for him, really, his therapy was going nowhere. No, just think of him as a fledgling killer's first attempt at transformation.

    Clarice Starling: What do you mean fledgling killer? Do you mean he's killed again?

    Hannibal Lecter: I've been in this room for eight years, now Clarice, and I know they'll never let me out, not while I'm alive. What I want is a view where I can see a tree, or even water. I want to be in a federal institution far away from Doctor Chiltern. I'll help you catch him, Clarice.

    Clarice Starling: You know who he is, don't you? Tell me who decapitated your patient.

    Hannibal Lecter: All good things to those who wait. I've waited, but how long can you and Jackie-boy wait? Our little Billy must already be looking for that next special someone.

  • Dr. Frederick Chilton: Crawford is very clever, isn't he, using you?

    Clarice Starling: What do you mean, sir?

    Dr. Frederick Chilton: A pretty young woman to turn him on. I don't believe Lecter's even seen a woman in eight years. And oh, are you ever his taste. So to speak.

  • Dr. Frederick Chilton: What you are doing, Miss Starling is coming into my hospital to conduct an interview, and refusing to share information with me, for the third time.

    Clarice Starling: Sir, I told you, this is just a routine follow-up on the Raspail case.

    Dr. Frederick Chilton: He is my patient. I have rights.

    Clarice Starling: I understand that, Sir.

    Dr. Frederick Chilton: Look, I am not just some turn-key, Miss Starling.

  • [first lines]

    FBI instructor: Starling! Starling! Crawford wants to see you in his office.

    Clarice Starling: Thank you, sir.

  • Dr. Frederick Chilton: I keep him in here.

    Clarice Starling: If Lecter thinks you're his enemy, maybe we'd have better luck if I went in by myself.

    Dr. Frederick Chilton: You could have mentioned this in my office and saved me the time.

    Clarice Starling: Yes, but then I would have missed the pleasure of your company.

    [Chilton smiles]

  • Hannibal Lecter: [lights go on] Thank you, Barney.

    Clarice Starling: Where are your drawings?

    Hannibal Lecter: Punishment, you see, for Miggs. Like that Gospel Programme. When you're gone they'll turn the volume way up. Doctor Chiltern does enjoy his petty torments.

  • Clarice Starling: There's no correlation in the literature between transsexualism and violence. Transsexuals are very passive.

    Hannibal Lecter: ...Billy is not a real transsexual. There are three major centers for transsexual surgery... I wouldn't be surprised if Billy had applied for sex reassignment at one or all of them and been rejected... Billy hates his own identity you see, and he thinks that makes him a transsexual.

  • Hannibal Lecter: Tell me Clarice, would you ever say to me "Stop. If you loved me, you'd stop"?

    Clarice Starling: Not in a thousand years.

    Hannibal Lecter: "Not in a thousand years"... That's my girl.

  • Clarice Starling: I'll cut you loose. If you touch me, I'll shoot you.

    Hannibal Lecter: Understood.

    Clarice Starling: Do right, and you'll live through this.

    Hannibal Lecter: Spoken like a true Protestant.

  • Clarice Starling: I wasn't speaking to you, Mr. Krendler. When I speak to you, you'll know it because I'll look at you.

  • Hannibal Lecter: Given the chance, you would deny me my life, wouldn't you?

    Clarice Starling: Not your life.

    Hannibal Lecter: Just my freedom. You'd take that from me.

  • Clarice Starling: Your profile at the border stations has five features. I'll trade you...

    Hannibal Lecter: "Trade"?

    Clarice Starling: Stop now and I'll tell you what they are.

    Hannibal Lecter: How does that word taste to you, Clarice? Hmm? Cheap and metallic, like sucking on a greasy coin?

  • Barney: Do you ever think he might come after you? You ever think about him at all?

    Clarice Starling: Well, at least thirty seconds of everyday. I can't help it. He's always with me, like a bad habit.

  • Clarice Starling: This is from the Guinness Book of World Records, congratulating me on being the female FBI Agent who has shot and killed the most people.

  • Paul Krendler: Jesus, Starling, what are you doing sitting in the dark?

    Clarice Starling: Thinkin' about cannibalism.

  • Clarice Starling: How did he end up at your house?

    Mason Verger: I invited him of course... to my pied-à-terre. I came to the door in my nicest come-hither outfit. I was concerned... that he'd be afraid of me. But he didn't seem to be. Afraid of me. That's almost funny now.

  • Hannibal Lecter: Have you met my friend Mason Verger?

    Clarice Starling: Yes

    Hannibal Lecter: Face to face, so to speak?

    Clarice Starling: Face to face

    Hannibal Lecter: Attractive, isn't he?

  • Clarice Starling: Paul, what is it with you? I told you to go home to your wife, that was wrong?

    Paul Krendler: Don't flatter yourself, Starling. That was a long time ago. Why would I hold that against you? Besides, this town is full of cornpone country pussy.

  • Mason Verger: Isn't it funny?

    Clarice Starling: What's that?

    Mason Verger: You can look at my face, but you shied when I said the name of God.

  • Hannibal Lecter: What if I did it for you?

    Clarice Starling: Did what?

    Hannibal Lecter: Harmed them, Clarice. The ones who've harmed you. What if I made them scream apologies? No, I shouldn't even say it because you'll feel - with your perfect grasp on right and wrong - that you were somehow accompli- even though you wouldn't be.

  • Hannibal Lecter: Good evening, Clarice! Just like old times.

    Clarice Starling: Shut up.

  • Mason Verger: You know, I thank God for what happened. It was my salvation. Have you accepted Jesus, Agent Starling? Do you have faith?

    Clarice Starling: I was raised Lutheran.

    Mason Verger: That's not what I asked.

  • Special Agent Burke: [Over earpiece] Keep that gun down Bolton. Bolton!

    Red Scarf Gang Banger: Damn dude got a piece!

    Evelda Drumgo's Bodyguard: Light his ass up!

    Clarice Starling: [Over earpiece] Hey it's a go!

    Clarice Starling: [Draws gun] FBI! DOWN ON THE GROUND!

  • Clarice Starling: All right, everyone, pay attention. Here's the layout...

    Officer Bolton: Excuse me? I'm Officer Bolton, DC Police.

    Clarice Starling: Yes, I can see that from your uniform and badge, how do you do?

    Officer Bolton: I'm in charge here.

    Clarice Starling: You are?

    Officer Bolton: Yes, ma'am.

    Clarice Starling: Officer Bolton, I'm Special Agent Starling, and just so we don't get off on the wrong foot, let me explain why we're all here. I'm here because I know Evelda Drumgo, I've arrested her twice on RICO warrants, I know how she thinks. DEA and BATF, in addition to backing me up, are here for the drugs and weapons. You're here - and it's the only reason you're here - because our mayor wants to appear tough on drugs, especially after his own cocaine conviction, and thinks he can accomplish that by the mere fact of having you tag along with us.

    Officer Bolton: You got a smart mouth, lady.

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