Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks #2: Dr. Frederick Chilton from ‘The Silence of the Lambs’

by John Cal McCormick
Published: Last Updated on

Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks is a celebration of the characters we love to hate in the movies we love to love. They’re not always the main villains – and sometimes they’re not even villains at all – but they’re definitely jerks. So let’s take a look at this week’s jerk-off, and why they find themselves forever enshrined here in the hall of shame. Also, since I’m not a jerk, this is your spoiler warning for the 1991 movie, The Silence of the Lambs.

Find me a more punchable face than this.

It comes to something when you’re in a story with a cannibal, a guy who’s skinning women, and a guy who literally jerks off and then throws his jizz in Jodie Foster’s face for banter, and you’re still the biggest jerk-off in the movie.

Frederick Chilton is the head honcho over at the asylum for the criminally insane that houses renowned serial killin’ psychiatrist and big fan of the other, other white meat, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Clarice Starling is a rookie FBI agent that has been sent in to talk to the bad doctor in order to, hopefully, secure his help in providing a psychological profile on another serial killer, known in the media as Buffalo Bill. When Clarice arrives at the hospital, Dr. Chilton manages to retain composure for at least four seconds before clumsily transitioning into a sleazy hit on the young FBI agent. She doesn’t play ball, and so Dr. Chilton decides to get right down to business, walking Clarice to the cell that Hannibal Lecter now calls home.

Frederick Chilton spends the rest of the movie constantly attempting to one-up his own douchebaggery with startling effectiveness. Not content with a couple of awkward passes at an FBI agent he’d just met, he then proceeds to imply that she only got the job based on her looks, before outrageously claiming that Hannibal Lecter sees him as his nemesis, and finally, decides to fuck up her entire investigation because he doesn’t feel like he’s getting any credit for doing, well, nothing in the investigation. Maybe if she’d taken up his offer for a night on the town, Clarice wouldn’t have found herself in the cross-hairs of Dr. Chilton, but she didn’t, presumably because he’s absolutely vile, and so he went out of his way to make sure that any progress in the Buffalo Bill case would be attributed directly to him.

Dr. Chilton is looking pretty smug right now, but little does he know that the pen he’s nibbling on will ultimately be his undoing.

After secretly taping the conversations between the FBI and Lecter, Chilton discovers that Clarice has offered Hannibal a bogus deal to have him relocated to a nicer prison in exchange for help saving the latest girl to be kidnapped by Buffalo Bill, and instead of letting it play out to hopefully get the poor girl rescued, he immediately puts the kibosh on the plan for his own ends. See, Dr. Chilton reckons that if it’s him that gets Hannibal to divulge the identity of Buffalo Bill, thereby aiding in the deranged killer’s capture and saving the latest kidnapped lady who is also the daughter of a senator, he’ll be in line for book deals, interviews on Larry King, and perhaps even a made for TV movie about his life starring one of the rubbish Baldwins and possibly an Arquette.

Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as envisioned for poor Freddie. First, knowing that Hannibal is the only person who knows the true identity of Buffalo Bill, he mocks Dr. Lecter about nearly being hoodwinked by the FBI and their fake deal without ever contemplating that this sort of attitude might make the doctor less likely to co-operate. Taking things from bad to worse, Chilton is having so much fun waxing lyrical about how it’s all going to work out for him that he forgets that he’s left his pen on Hannibal’s bed, which the madman promptly steals and uses later to engineer an ingenious escape from prison that adds another half a dozen people to the serial killer’s murder tally. Presumably fearing repercussions for all the time he spent tormenting the recently escaped Hannibal Lecter, and having realised that the interview on Oprah he’d been daydreaming about in the bath was probably no longer on the cards, Dr. Chilton goes on the lam, never to be heard from again.

Man, I bet he wishes he hadn’t been such a prick to Hannibal.

Jerk-Off Quote: “You know, we get a lot of detectives here, but I must say I can’t ever remember one as attractive.” – to Clarice, immediately after meeting her.

Comeuppance: At the end of the movie we see Dr. Chilton chilling in Jamaica, while Hannibal Lecter follows him in disguise, after announcing that he’s “having an old friend for dinner.” Now, that might sound like Hannibal meant he was going to take his old pal Chilton out for a cheeky Nando’s, but one suspects that he meant that Dr. Chilton was the dinner, and he was going to eat him, possibly with some fava beans and a nice Chiante. Honestly, I don’t even know what fava beans are.

Jerk-Off Rating: An eleven course tasting menu comprised entirely of jerk chicken.

Tune in next week – same jerk time, same jerk channel – to find out who’s next in our celebration of cinema’s ultimate jerks.

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