It was 24 years ago today that The Silence of The Lambs was released on Valentine's Day. It had a difficult birth.
The film's predecessor, Manhunter, based on the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon, had bombed at the box office and lost millions of dollars. Both Michelle Pfieffer and Sean Connery turned down the lead roles after reading the script, disturbed by the dark storyline. But it went on to gross 272 million dollars and won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins) and Best Actress (Jodie Foster).
Jonathan Demme agreed to direct the film even though financing had just fallen apart, and the studio was scrambling to find money for the project. Jodie Foster, who had been pushing for the lead role of Clarice Starling all along, was finally cast after Pfieffer turned it down. Anthony Hopkins won the role of Hannibal Lecter based on his performance in The Elephant Man.
Critics praised the film, in particular the dialogue and interaction between Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling. But the acclaim was not universal. Gene Siskel, one of the most influential movie critics at the time, gave it a thumbs down.
Much of the filming took place near Pittsburgh, PA. Ted Levine, who played the role of serial killer 'Buffalo Bill', later went on to star in the television comedy Monk as San Francisco detective Leland Stottlemeyer.
For more about this ground breaking movie, check out this article by Roger Cormier, 18 Things You Might Not Have Known About 'The Silence of the Lambs'.