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#085 Jonathan Demme: The Silence of the Lambs vs. The Truth About Charlie




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Jonathan Demme’s best and worst rated films, The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and The Truth About Charlie (2002), respectively. Nate talks bad about Markie Mark, Austin wishes he were Buffalo Bill, and they both record the podcast with some fava beans and a nice Chianti — thfthfthfthf.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and Tobacco Road (1941), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director Jonathan Demme about his work on The Silence of the Lambs:


The Truth About Charlie Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A woman returns from holiday to find her husband has been murdered, and several groups of people are pressuring her to unravel the mystery of his true identity and activities during his final days.

  • Ratings: IMDb 4.8 | RT 33% C / 27% A
  • Released: 2002
  • Director: Jonathan Demme
  • Writer(s): Peter Stone (Charade screenplay), Jonathan Demme & Steve Schmidt and Peter Stone and Jessica Bendinger (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Tak Fujimoto (The Sixth Sense, Star Wars: A New Hope, Signs)
  • Notable actors: Stephen Dillane, Thandie Newton, Sakina Jaffrey, Mark Wahlberg, Christine Boisson, Simon Abkarian, Joong-Hoon Park, LisaGay Hamilton, Ted Levine, Tim Robbins
  • Budget: $60 million
  • Box office: $7.1 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Mark Wahlberg considers this his worst film.
    • Peter Stone, the writer of Charade (1963) (the basis for the movie) was so against this remake, that in some releases of this movie, his screenwriting credit was changed to Peter Joshua, the name of Cary Grant’s character in Charade.
    • The part of Joshua Peters was originally intended for Will Smith, but due to the extended production on Ali (2001), he was unable to make the start of filming on Charlie, so Demme had to move forward with Mark Wahlberg instead, losing the Thandie Newton and Will Smith “double-act” he had imagined watching the original movie Charade (1963).
    • The movie contains numerous connections to French New Wave films. Reference is made to Shoot the Piano Player (1960) and its star, Charles Aznavour, has a singing role at the end of this movie. Anna Karina, featured in several Jean-Luc Godard films, has a bit part.

The Silence of the Lambs Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: A young F.B.I. cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.6 | RT 95% C / 95% A
  • Released: 1991
  • Director: Jonathan Demme
  • Writer(s): Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Tak Fujimoto (The Sixth Sense, Star Wars: A New Hope, Signs)
  • Notable actors: Jodie Foster, Kasi Lemmons, Scott Glenn, Anthony Heald, Frankie Faison, Don Brockett, Anthony Hopkins, Brooke Smith, Ted Levine
  • Budget: $19 million
  • Box office: $272.7 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • In preparation for his role, Sir Anthony Hopkins studied files of serial killers. Also, he visited prisons, and studied convicted murderers, and was present during some court hearings concerning gruesome murderers and serial killings.
    • Jodie Foster claims that during the first meeting between Lecter and Starling, Sir Anthony Hopkins’ mocking of her southern accent was improvised on the spot. Foster’s horrified reaction was genuine, she felt personally attacked. She later thanked Hopkins for generating such an honest reaction.
    • Jame Gumb is the combination of three real-life serial killers: Ed Gein, who skinned his victims, Ted Bundy, who used the cast on his hand as bait to convince women to get into his van, and Gary Heidnick, who kept women he kidnapped in a pit in his basement. Gein was only positively linked to two murders, and suspected of two others. He gathered most of his materials through grave robbing, not murder.
    • When Sir Anthony Hopkins found out that he was cast as Hannibal Lecter, based on his performance as Dr. Frederick Treves in The Elephant Man (1980), he questioned Director Jonathan Demme, and said, “But Dr. Treves was a good man.” To which Demme replied, “So is Lecter, he is a good man too. Just trapped in an insane mind.”
    • When Sir Anthony Hopkins’ agent called him in London, to tell him that he was sending him a script called “The Silence of the Lambs”, Hopkins immediately thought he might be going up for a children’s movie.
    • With twenty-four minutes and fifty-two seconds of screentime, Sir Anthony Hopkins’ performance in this movie is the second shortest to ever win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, with David Niven in Separate Tables (1958) beating him, at twenty-three minutes and thirty-nine seconds.
    • Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster only share four scenes throughout the course of the film.
    • After Lecter was moved from Baltimore, the plan was to dress him in a yellow or orange jumpsuit. Sir Anthony Hopkins convinced Jonathan Demme and Costume Designer Colleen Atwood that the character would seem more clinical and unsettling if he was dressed in pure white. Hopkins has since said he got the idea from his fear of dentists.
    • One of the inspirations, from whom Sir Anthony Hopkins borrowed, for his interpretation of Hannibal Lecter, was a friend of his in London who never blinked, which unnerved anyone around him.
    • Jodie Foster spent a great deal of time with F.B.I. Agent Mary Ann Krause prior to filming. Krause gave Foster the idea of Starling standing by her car crying. Krause told Foster that at times, the work just became so overwhelming that it was a good way to get an emotional release.
    • Jame Gumb’s dance was not included in the original draft of the screenplay, although it appears in the novel. It was added at the insistence of Ted Levine, who thought the scene was essential in defining the character.
    • The Silence of the Lambs was inspired by the real-life relationship between University of Washington criminology professor and profiler Robert Keppel, and serial killer Ted Bundy. Bundy helped Keppel investigate the Green River Serial Killings in Washington. Bundy was executed January 24, 1989. The Green River Killings were finally solved in 2001, when Gary Ridgway was arrested. On November 5, 2003, in a Seattle courtroom, Ridgway plead guilty to forty-eight counts of aggravated first degree murder.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#047 David Lynch: The Elephant Man vs. Dune w/ guest David Hart of “Pop Culture Case Study”




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare David Lynch’s best and worst rated films, The Elephant Man (1980) and Dune (1984), respectively. Nate fell in love with Gurney, Austin shed a tear, and David made the biggest sacrifice of all: he watched Dune again.

David hosts his own podcast, Pop Culture Case Study, where he mixes psychology with pop culture. Check him out on twitter @pccasestudy.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Nancy Meyers’ The Intern (2015) and What Women Want (2000), her best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with David Lynch talking about Dune:


Dune Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A Duke’s son leads desert warriors against the galactic emperor and his father’s evil nemesis when they assassinate his father and free their desert world from the emperor’s rule.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.6 | RT 57% C / 67% A
  • Released: 1984
  • Director: David Lynch
  • Writer(s): Frank Herbert (novel), David Lynch (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Freddie Francis (Glory, Cape Fear)
  • Notable actors: Francesca Annis, Leonardo Cimino, Brad Dourif, Jose Ferrer, Linda Hunt, Freddie Jones, Richard Jordan, Kyle MacLachlan, Virginia Madsen, Silvana Mangano, Patrick Stewart, Sting, Max von Sydow
  • Budget: $40 million
  • Box office: $30.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • David Lynch has said he considers this film the only real failure of his career. To this day, he refuses to talk about the production in great detail, and has refused numerous offers to work on a special edition DVD. Lynch claims revisiting the film would be too painful an experience to endure.
    • David Lynch turned down the chance to direct Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) to direct Dune (1984).
    • The tendons visible when Paul hooks the worm were made from condoms.
    • Original director Ridley Scott left the production after his older brother suddenly passed away. Scott wanted to start working as soon as possible, but Dune would take far too long to reach production. Scott decided to leave the project in favor of Blade Runner (1982), which was ready to start production immediately.
    • Patrick Stewart said the stillsuit was the most uncomfortable costume he had ever worn. Max von Sydow said the same, but also said he put up with it because he loved the way his body looked in them.

The Elephant Man Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous facade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.2 | RT 90% C / 93% A
  • Released: 1980
  • Director: David Lynch
  • Writer(s): Christopher De Vore & Eric Bergren & David Lynch (screenplay), Frederick Treves (book), Ashley Montagu (book)
  • Cinematographer: Freddie Francis (Glory, Cape Fear)
  • Notable actors: Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Freddie Jones, Michael Elphick, Hannah Gordon, Helen Ryan, John Stranding, Kenny Baker
  • Budget: $5 million
  • Box office: $26 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • The Elephant Man makeup took seven to eight hours to apply each day and two hours to remove. John Hurt would arrive on set at 5.00am and shoot from noon until 10.00pm. Because of the strain on the actor, he worked alternate days.
    • This film was executive produced by Mel Brooks, who was responsible for hiring director David Lynch and obtaining permission to film in black and white. He deliberately left his name off the credits, as he knew that people would get the wrong idea about the movie if they saw his name on the film, given his fame as a satirist.
    • When Paramount studio executives were shown a cut of the film, they wanted the film’s opening and closing surrealist sequences to be cut. Executive producer Mel Brooks, according to producer Stuart Cornfeld, said to them: “We are involved in a business venture. We screened the film for you to bring you up to date as to the status of that venture. Do not misconstrue this as our soliciting the input of raging primitives.”
    • David Lynch was working as a roofer at the time he was offered the chance to direct.
    • Following the death of the real Joseph “John” Merrick, parts of his body were preserved for medical science to study. Some internal organs were kept in jars, and plaster casts were taken of his head, an arm, and a foot. Although the organs were destroyed by German air raids during the Second World War, the casts survived and are kept at the London Hospital. The makeup for John Hurt, who played Merrick in the film, was designed directly from those casts.
    • Anthony Hopkins’s portrayal of the good doctor Frederick Treves in this film is reportedly what inspired Jonathan Demme to cast him as the evil doctor Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs (1991). (Hopkins later said that he felt the sharing-and-caring role of Dr. Frederick Treves a rather dull one.)

Intro music: Calm The Fuck Down – Broke For Free / CC BY 3.0