Greatest Film Plot Twists
Film Spoilers and
Surprise Endings


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Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings
Film Title/Year and Plot Twist-Spoiler-Surprise Ending Description
Screenshots

The Machinist (2004)

Trevor Was Involved in a Deadly Hit-and-Run Accident That Killed a Young Boy A Year Earlier; His Subconscious Was Reminding Him of His Suppressed Guilt Through Distorted Memories and Thoughts; He Turned Himself In

This perplexing, suspenseful psychological thriller from Brad Anderson, similar in part to Fight Club (1999) and Memento (2000), told of insomniac drill-press machinist Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale in a distressing, emaciated role that required him to lose over 60 pounds), who hadn't slept for about one year -- the first line of the film hinted at the theme: "Who are you?"

The grim, weakened, zombie-like Trevor went on a quest to discover who he was, what traumatic thing or event caused him to be the way he was, and why things were going from bad to worse. The viewer was trapped within Trevor's mind and point-of-view, so it was difficult to answer lots of the film's questions:

  • why was he seemingly losing his mind?
  • why wasn't he sleeping?
  • why was he paranoid that co-workers and his foreman didn't like him?
  • why was he so forgetful that he had to write Post-it notes to himself?
  • what was the meaning of the Hangman game that materialized on his refrigerator, taunting him to discover the 6-letter word?
  • why did he have an obsession to clean his hands with bleach?
  • why did he tip the Flyaway Cafe airport diner counter-waitress, beatific single-mother Marie (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón) so much - and always at 1:30 am?
  • was it a fantasy trip on Mothers Day to a fairground with Marie when he took her epileptic son Nicholas (Matthew Romero) on a Route 666 thrill-ride?
  • what about his short idyllic romance-date with Marie?
  • why was he also so generous with sweet, sympathetic and vulnerable hooker Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), her flesh quite a contrast to his bony frame?
  • who was the enigmatic, stocky, and bald co-worker named Ivan (John Sharian) who drove around in a red 1959 Pontiac Firebird - was Ivan a delusion?
  • who was standing next to co-worker Reynolds (James DePaul) in the fishing picture?

All the clues to his problems and questions were eventually unraveled and summed up in a short flashback in the conclusion at the 1:30 mark, when he finally declared: "I know who you are." All of Trevor's delusions were oblique pieces of his own suppressed memories:

(1) Ivan was an imaginary, hallucinatory friend
(2) Trevor often tailed the Pontiac Firebird driven by Ivan, and when he learned the identity of its owner from the license plate, 7-4-3-C-R-N, he was told that he owned the car himself, although a year earlier, it had been in a wreck
(3) he broke up with Stevie, calling her a lying whore, and falsely believed that her mysterious ex-husband, whom he thought was Ivan, was abusing her and tormenting him
(4) there was no Marie who worked at the diner - it was all in his imagination
(5) Trevor's refrigerator freezer was bleeding because he hadn't paid his utilities bill and the fish-heads inside bled and rotted, along with melted ice cream
(6) Trevor was involved in a hit-run accident at 1:30 pm with his own Pontiac Firebird - he hit and killed Nicholas in a cross-walk at an intersection when he ran a red-light (while lighting his cigarette with the car's cigarette lighter) - a Route 66 medallion swung from his rear-view mirror in front of the smashed windshield
(7) Trevor looked back at the accident scene, before fleeing, and saw Marie rush to the body of her son - but in reality, he never knew Nicholas or Marie
(8) Trevor solved the hangman puzzle, the word was: KILLER, himself

Trevor vacated his apartment and turned himself in to the police department by taking the right fork in the highway to downtown: "I'd like to report a hit and run," and was then led to a holding cell where he told the guards: "I just wanna sleep."

The final flashback view was of Trevor driving down the road following the hit-and-run, before fading to white.







The Maltese Falcon (1941)

The Maltese Falcon Was a Fake; Brigid Was Arrested For the Murder of Spade's Partner Miles

There were a few twists in this moody, early film noir:

(1) the revelation that femme fatale Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor) (with lots of alias names) had shot and killed private investigator Sam Spade's (Humphrey Bogart) partner Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) on a dark street

(2) Brigid was involved with a trio of ruthless, shady treasure hunters led by Fat Man Casper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet) who had spent many years pursuing the trail of the legendary "black bird" statue (or "dingus"), the fabled and bejewelled Maltese Falcon

(3) in the finale, the Maltese Falcon turned out to be a fake, without any treasure inside

The climax was highlighted by Brigid's arrest for the murder, and Spade's famous last-line response after being asked by Sergeant Tom Polhaus (Ward Bond) about the statue:

"It's heavy. What is it?"
"The, uh, stuff dreams are made of."




The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Doniphon (Not Ransom) Shot Villain Liberty Valance

The film ended with a climactic and miraculous shootout, shown in the film's lengthy flashback told to local newspaper editor Maxwell Scott (Carleton Young), in which timid attorney at law Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) lefthandedly shot dead the drunken, abusive, violent, silver-knobbed whip-wielding villain Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin).

Rugged homesteader and gunslinger Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) confided in a private confrontation with Ransom the real truth of the legendary gunfight - Ransom never shot Liberty.

In a 'flashback within a flashback' introduced with a swirl of smoke ("You didn't kill Liberty Valance...Think back, Pilgrim"), Doniphon said he had been on a side street with sidekick Pompey (Woody Strode) when the showdown occurred. Pompey threw him a rifle and at the exact moment of the shooting, Doniphon had killed Valance.

Doniphon had done so to sacrificially protect the love of his life Hallie (Vera Miles) from heartbreak (knowing Stoddard would die in a face-off), and also for the greater good of the territory poised for statehood. However, Doniphon turned bitter and burned his own house down which was planned to be the residence for his bride-to-be Hallie.

For the remainder of his life as a politician, Stoddard was mistakenly known as "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" - even the local newspaper editor Maxwell Scott (Carleton Young) wouldn't accept the truth, asserting instead: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."



Manon of the Spring (1986, Fr/It.) (aka Manon des Sources)

Ugolin Hung Himself Because Manon Didn't Love Him; Cesar Was Jean De Florette's Father; Cesar Died and Left Everything to Manon

In part two of the Jean de Florette (1986, Fr.) tale, there were two noteworthy deaths and a surprise ending:

(1) Ugly, half-witted nephew Ugolin Soubeyran (Daniel Auteuil), a co-conspirator with his cruel, wealthy landowner uncle Cesar Soubeyran ('Le Papet') (Yves Montand), suicidally hanged himself from a tree because of his unrequited love for blonde shepherdess Manon Cadoret (Emmanuelle Beart), the daughter of hunchbacked, physically-deformed Jean de Florette.

(2) Cesar Soubeyran ("Le Papet") learned that Jean de Florette (Gerard Depardieu) was actually his son, borne by Florette. Jean de Florette was the man he had betrayed ten years earlier and driven to his death (in the prior film) by plugging up a well spring. Cesar and Ugolin had both profited from Jean's death. The truth was brought out during a confession from elderly Delphine (Yvonne Gamy), a friend of Cesar's old flame Florette, who had borne and raised the child in secret.

A broken man, Cesar realized that the vengeful Manon, who despised him for killing her father, was actually his grand-daughter. Unable to accept such revelations, the remorseful and guilt-ridden Cesar wrote grand-daughter Manon a long letter explaining his regretfulness over killing the son he thought he'd never had, and left her his entire estate. Then he clasped a memento -- Florette's comb -- and a rosary in his hand and died in his sleep without any more will to live.


Marnie (1964)

Marnie Suffered Severe Mental and Sexual Problems (and the Fear of the Color Red) Due to Self-Defensively Killing One of Her Prostitute Mother's Sailor Clients When She Was a Child

The finale of Hitchcock's 'sex-mystery' (about frigidity, marital rape, and murder) revealed that blonde phobic con artist and compulsive thief Margaret 'Marnie' Edgar's (Tippi Hedren) mother Bernice (Louise Latham) was a 20 year-old wartime prostitute when Marnie was a 5 year-old girl (Melody Thomas Scott). Marnie's husband Mark Rutland (Sean Connery) confronted Bernice with the truth of her risky occupation: "In the records, it states quite plainly that you made your living from the touch of men, and it was one of your clients that you killed that night."

Marnie remembered, and relived in a scary flashback, a repressed, traumatic childhood experience that occurred during a thunder and lightning storm, when one of her mother's white-suited sailor customers (Bruce Dern) had entered their home. Marnie was awakened from her bed and moved to the living room, while her mother and male client used the bed. She then recalled: "He come out to me," and comforted her during the storm by stroking her hair and kissing her. When her protective mother saw them together, she intervened and they wrestled together above the young girl. Marnie was upset by the memory: "Make him go, Mama. I-I don't like him to kiss me. Make him go, Mama!" Marnie screamed as she saw her mother attack the sailor with a fire poker, but he overpowered her and fell on her, and it dropped from her hands. When her mother screamed out: "Marnie, help me," young Marnie defensively delivered a blow to his head with the poker ("I hit him, I hit him with a stick, I hurt him") - and murdered him ("There, there now"). Crimson blood ran down the white T-shirt of the mortally-wounded seaman. Marnie's mother was the one who took the blame and stood trial for the self-defense murder.

The Traumatic Recollection

These events were revealed to be the source of all of Marnie's phobias, recurring nightmares and fear of the color red and white - she was desperate for love, but couldn't allow a man to be intimately close to her.

She had subconsciously attempted to 'repay' (with monetary gifts) her mother for standing up for her, although she had almost entirely erased the memory of the killing. Her husband Mark had earlier explained: "When a child of any age feels unloved, it takes what it can get, however it can get it." Mentally-ill, cheating, lying and disturbed Marnie had secretly feared that she wasn't loved, and would never be loved or have children, so she compensated by stealing and cramming robbed goods into her purse (a symbol of her empty womb).

After the revelation about the murder, the mother also confessed her love for Marnie, and described how her daughter had been conceived at the age of 15. She wanted the basketball sweater of a boy named Billy, and allowed him to have sex with her: "Billy said that if I let him, I could have the sweater. So I let him."










Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings

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