Greatest Film Plot Twists
Film Spoilers and
Surprise Endings


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Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings
Title Screen
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. An Imaginary Friend Named Ivan (A Product of Trevor's Troubled Mind) Was Stalking Him, Sending Malicious Messages, And Threatening to Kill Him. Trevor Turned Himself In

This perplexing, suspenseful psychological thriller from Brad Anderson was similar in part to Fight Club (1999) and Memento (2000). The first line of the film hinted at the theme: "Who are you?" Its taglines were:

  • Trevor Reznik is four letters away from the truth. (A reference to the hangman game)
  • How do you wake up from a nightmare if you're not asleep?

The main protagonist was:

  • Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale in a distressing, emaciated role that required him to lose over 60 pounds), an insomniac drill-press factory machinist who hadn't slept for about one year

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 Mother's 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 Trevor's co-worker Reynolds (James DePaul) in the fishing picture? (In Trevor's delusionary mind, it was Ivan, when in fact, it was Trevor)

All the clues to his problems and questions were eventually unraveled and summed up in a short flashback in the conclusion at the 1 hour 30 minute 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, and a year earlier had reported it as totaled after 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 airport diner - it was all in Trevor's 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

It was revealed what had happened to Trevor one year earlier:

  • Trevor was involved in a hit-run accident at 1:30 pm with his own Pontiac Firebird - he hit and killed a young boy (that looked like Marie's son 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
  • Trevor looked back at the accident scene, before fleeing, and saw the boy's mother (who looked like Marie) rush to the body of her son - but in reality, he never knew Nicholas or Marie
  • Trevor solved the hangman puzzle of post-it notes on his refrigerator door - 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.


Emaciated Machinist Trevor (Christian Bale) With Hooker Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh)

Co-Worker Ivan (John Sharian)

Waitress Marie (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón)

Co-worker Reynolds with Ivan in The Imagined Fishing Picture

Route 66 Medallion

Trevor Looking Back at Accident Scene Before Hit-and-Run

The Accident - Smashed Windshield

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 from director John Huston:

  1. 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 her descent in an elevator), and Spade's famous last-line response after being asked by Sergeant Tom Polhaus (Ward Bond) about the statue:

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


The Murder of Miles Archer

The Maltese Falcon - The Black Bird

Brigid After Arrest

"What is it?"

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).

The legendary shootout was between two opponents on a dusty street:

  • Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart), a timid attorney at law (nicknamed "Pilgrim") lefthandedly (allegedly) shot dead his villainous opponent
  • Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), a drunken, abusive, violent, silver-knobbed whip-wielding villain

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."


The Shootout

Doniphon to Ransom: "You didn't kill Liberty Valance"

Doniphon on a Side Street Killed Valance

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

Set 10 Years After the First Film, Jean de Florette (1986), Ugolin Hung Himself Because Manon Didn't Love Him; Ironically, Wealthy Landowner Cesar Soubeyran Learned That He Was Jean De Florette's Father; Guilt-Ridden Cesar Died and Left Everything to Manon - His Natural Grand-Daughter

Part two of the Jean de Florette (1986, Fr.) tale, a sequel set 10 years later, was about pretty blonde shepherdess Manon Cadoret (Emmanuelle Beart). She was the offspring daughter of parents living in the Provencal of France:

  • Jean de Florette (Gerard Depardieu) a hunchbacked, physically-deformed man
  • Aimée Cadoret (Élisabeth Depardieu), Jean's pretty wife

In this second part of the story, Manon was determined to take revenge upon the two men indirectly responsible for the death of her father in the first film.

Two co-conspirators were involved in the death of Manon's father, Jean de Florette, when he died from an explosive charge while searching for water on his newly-inherited property, after his well spring had been deliberately plugged up. The two schemers then bought the land from Aimée, Jean de Florette's widow, for a very cheap price - they both profited from Jean's death. They were:

  • Ugolin Soubeyran (Daniel Auteuil), ugly, half-witted, in the carnation business; nephew to his uncle Cesar Soubeyran
  • Cesar Soubeyran (Yves Montand), a cruel, wealthy landowner

There were two noteworthy deaths and surprise revelations:

  1. Ugolin Soubeyran suicidally hanged himself from a tree because of his unrequited love for Manon (after seeing her bathing naked in a grotto) - she had rejected his request for marriage.
  2. Cesar Soubeyran learned that Jean de Florette was actually his son. Many years earlier, he had impregnated Florette de Berengere, his old sweetheart, who had given birth to the child (after an attempted abortion) and raised the hunchbacked child in secret. The truth was brought out during a confession from elderly Delphine (Yvonne Gamy), a friend of Florette's.

    A broken man, Cesar realized that the vengeful Manon, who despised him for killing her father, was actually his grand-daughter.
Cesar's Sad and Tragic Ending
Cesar's Letter to Long-Lost Granddaughter Manon
Cesar's Last Repose
Memento of Florette and Rosary in His Hand

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.


Manon Cadoret (Emmanuelle Beart)

Ugolin Soubeyran
(Daniel Auteuil)


Cesar Soubeyran
(Yves Montand)


Suicidal Hanging of Ugolin

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 main character of Hitchcock's 'sex-mystery' (about frigidity, marital rape, and murder) was blonde phobic con artist, liar and compulsive thief Margaret 'Marnie' Edgar (Tippi Hedren). At the start of the film, she was revealed as Marion Holland, a secretary in the firm of tax consultant Sidney Strutt (Martin Gabel), where she stole almost $10,000.

Her next job as a typist was at a Philadelphia publishing firm owned by wealthy widower and playboy Mark Rutland (Sean Connery). The prudish, icy blonde Marnie and handsome Mark became romantically involved, during which time she was experiencing nightmares, severe panic attacks (occurring during a thunderstorm), and a phobic fear of the color red. When Mark discovered Marnie's theft of funds from the company, he blackmailed her into marrying him.

During a honeymoon cruise, Mark wanted to sleep with (have sex with) Marnie - he hungrily advanced toward her, kissed her, ripped off her nightgown (the silky garment fell to her feet), embraced her, laid on top of her on the bed and took her (his face filling the entire screen). She stared upward in a frozen, paralyzed catatonic state - completely lacking any passion or emotion. Why was she so sexually frigid?

In the conclusion of the film, Mark confronted Marnie's mother Bernice (Louise Latham) with the truth of her risky occupation as a prostitute:

"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."

When Bernice began to hysterically attack Mark in Marnie's presence, Marnie remembered, and relived in a scary flashback, a repressed, traumatic childhood experience that occurred during a thunder and lightning storm. Her mother was a 20 year-old wartime prostitute when Marnie was a 5 year-old girl (Melody Thomas Scott). Her deep-seated problems were due to trauma when she witnessed her mother being attacked by sex partner and pedophile, white-suited sailor (Bruce Dern).

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.

Marnie's Traumatic Recollection of The Night
of Her Mother's Attack by Sailor (Bruce Dern)

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. 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 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"), but afterwards when she became pregnant, he abandoned her. She confessed her love for Marnie:

When I was in the hospital, they tried to make me let you be adopted. But I wouldn't. I wanted you. And I promised God right then, if he'd let me keep you, and you not remember, I'd bring you up different from me. Decent.

Marnie agreed that she was decent, but also much more: "I certainly am decent. Of course, I'm a cheat, and a liar and a thief, but I am decent." Mark tried to convince Marnie to think more highly of herself:

Marnie, it's time to have a little compassion for yourself. When a child, a child of any age, Marnie, can't get love, well, it takes what it can get, any way it can get it. It's not so hard to understand.

Marnie asked Mark what was going to happen, and then told Mark that she wanted it "all cleared up." She worried: "Will I go to jail?" He responded that he would defend her: "No. Not after what I have to tell them." As they departed and were standing on the doorstep, they spoke one more time:

Marnie: Oh, Mark. I don't want to go to jail. I'd rather stay with you.
Mark: Had you, love?



Mark and Marnie: Honeymoon Sex or Rape?

Marnie's Mother Bernice (Louise Latham)


Marnie Describing a Traumatic Childhood Event



Killing the Male John With a Fireplace Poker


Bernice




The Ending Scene


Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings

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