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Manhunter (1986, William Petersen, Brian Cox)



Michael Mann’s critically acclaimed adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon is the first in his trilogy of chillers which introduced Dr Hannibal Lecter. The film was slated to be named after the book but Year of the Dragon had just bombed and Dino De Laurentiis ordered the title change to avoid any possible confusion.

William Petersen plays Will Graham, a retired FBI profiler who’s coaxed out of his beach home with wife Kim Greist by FBI boss Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina) who needs his peculiar skills to solve a series of bizarre murders. Graham’s skill is to be able to get into the mind of the killers, to think like them to such a degree he can predict their motives and possible next prey.

He retired after an encounter with Dr Hannibal Lecter (Brian Cox) which left him physically and mentally scarred. However, he turns to Lecter for help in order to help build up the profile – and it is Lecter who manages to communicate with the killer, placing Graham and his family in danger of being the next victims…

Mann skillfully plays the investigation against scenes of the killer Francis Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan), whose identity is revealed early on as he plans his next murder, but he is also conducting a gentle affair with a fellow worker Reba (Joan Allen), who is blind, thereby humanising the demon. The tension comes from the knowledge that Dollarhyde is going to strike again and only Graham’s skills can stop him. Some critics consider Mann’s raw edge superior to the flashier Silence of the Lambs and Cox’s quiet, brooding presence certainly bears favourable comparison to Sir Anthony Hopkins as everyone’s favourite cannibal.

production details
USA | 122 minutes | 1986

Director and Writer Michael Mann (from Thomas Harris’ novel Red Dragon)

Joan Allen as Reba McClane
Tom Noonan as Francis Dollarhyde
Chris Elliott as Zeller
Michael Talbott as Geehan
Peter Maloney as Dr. Dominick Princi
Kin Shriner as Mr. Sherman
David Allen Brooks as Mr. Leeds
Marshall Bell as Atlanta Policeman
William Petersen as Will Graham
Kim Greist as Molly Graham
Dennis Farina as Jack Crawford
Brian Cox as Dr. Hannibal Lecktor
Stephen Lang as Freddy Lounds
Dan Butler as Jimmy Price
Paul Perri as Dr. Sidney Bloom
Patricia Charbonneau as Mrs. Sherman
Alexandra Neil as Eileen
Frankie Faison as Lt. Fisk
Garcelle Beauvais as Young Housebuyer
Joanne Camp as Mother on Plane
John Posey as Mr. Jacobi
Kristin Holby as Mrs. Jacobi
Bill Smitrovich as Lloyd Bowman
Michael D. Roberts as The Runner
Annie McEnroe as Stewardess
David Seaman as Kevin Graham
Benjamin Hendrickson as Dr. Frederick Chilton
Michele Shay as Beverly Katz
Robin Moseley as Sarah
Bill Cwikowski as Ralph Dandridge
Norman Snow as Springfield
Jim Zubiena as Spurgen
Elisabeth Ryall as Mrs. Leeds
Gary Chavaras as Guard
Chris Cianciolo as Attendant
Ken Colquitt as Housebuyer
Ron Fitzgerald as Storage Guard #1
Dennis Quick as Storage Guard #2
David Meeks as Dr. Warfield
Sherman Michaels as Technician
Robin Trapp as Secretary #1
LA Winters as Secretary #2
Daniel T. Snow as State Trooper
Cynthia Chvatal as Airport Waitress
King White as SWAT Man
Mickey Lloyd as Atlanta Detective
Dawn Carmen as Child on Plane
David Fitzsimmons as Bill
Robert A. Burton as Doctor
Steve Hogan as Helicopter Pilot
Mickey Pugh as Lear Jet Technician
Greg Kelly as Jacobi Child #1
Brian Kelly as Jacobi Child #2
Ryan Langhorne as Jacobi Boy #3
Hannah Caggiano as Sherman Child #1
Lindsey Fonora as Sherman Child #2
Jason Frair as Leeds Child #1
Bryant Arrants as Leeds Child #2
Christopher Arrants as Leeds Child #3
Melvin Clark as SWAT Member
Renee Ayala as SWAT Member
Dana Dewey as SWAT Member
Stephen Hawkins as SWAT Member
Leonard Johnson as SWAT Member
Keith Pyles as SWAT Member
Michael Russell as SWAT Member
Michael Vitug as SWAT Member
Pat Williams as SWAT Member
Charles Yarbaugh as SWAT Member
Gusmano Cesaretti as National Tattler Photographer
Melody Gold as Airport Passenger