Greatest Film Plot Twists
Film Spoilers and
Surprise Endings


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

Murder, My Sweet (1944)

Helen Grayle, aka Velma Valento, Was the Killer of Marriott; Helen's Husband Shot Her Dead, Followed by the Deaths of Both Moose and Mr. Grayle, and the Blinding of Marlowe

In this great Raymond Chandler detective thriller told mostly in flashback, flirtatious and slinky femme fatale blonde Mrs. Helen Grayle (Claire Trevor), who was married to elderly millionaire Mr. Grayle (Miles Mander), was revealed to be the mysterious Velma Valento.

She was the object of private detective Philip Marlowe's (Dick Powell) film-long search that he was conducting for love-struck ex-con Moose Malloy (Mike Mazurki).

She was involved with the murder of effeminate gigolo Lindsay Marriott (Douglas Walton) in a plot surrounding an allegedly stolen jade necklace.

The film ended with a violent conclusion in a beach house when Helen was shot to death by her husband. Shortly afterwards, both Moose and Mr. Grayle exchanged lethal shots as well - scorching and blinding Marlowe's eyes in the process.

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

All Twelve Suspects Were Guilty of Killing Ratchett! The Murder Was Blamed on a Mafioso member

This all-star who-dunit by director Sidney Lumet (with six Oscar nominations) adapted Agatha Christie's train-bound mystery for the screen. Although the mystery of the plot turned out to be outrageously preposterous, it was still entertaining.

Famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) delivered his sleuthing findings at the film's end to the assembled group of suspects aboard the Orient Express: no one person had killed callous, millionaire American businessman/Mafioso Mr. Samuel Edward Ratchett/Cassetti (Richard Widmark) - everyone was guilty ("A repulsive murderer has been murdered repulsively, and, perhaps, deservedly").

All twelve suspects had taken a turn at stabbing the drugged Ratchett in his train berth between midnight and 2AM (there were right-handed and left-handed stabbings, some lethal and some not, and he had also been poisoned). Each one was avenging his notorious, unpunished 1930 murder of an American baby in the Armstrong family five years earlier (based upon the Lindbergh kidnapping incident).

Each of the murderers was associated in some way with the Armstrong family, that suffered greatly from the murder:

  • the girl named Daisy Armstrong had been kidnapped from her home in Long Island NY, held for $200,000 ransom, and then was found dead
  • as a result of Daisy's death, her mother died, prematurely giving birth to a stillborn child
  • her husband Colonel Hamish Armstrong shot himself
  • their suspected French maid Paulette also committed suicide

Rather than charge all of the suspects with murder, Poirot provided another simpler solution although it was a false scenario -- that the murderer was a rival Mafioso (dressed as a conductor), who killed Ratchett before leaving the train.

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

The Murders Were Committed by Dr. Mirakle's Experiments When Mixing the Blood of Pet Gorilla-Ape Erik With the Blood of Prostitutes; Camille Was Abducted, and During a Transfusion, Erik Turned on Mirakle and Murdered Him; Camille Was Saved by Fiancee Pierre Dupin and Erik Was Shot Dead

This was the third film in Universal's blockbuster series of Pre-Code horror films in the early 30s - it was suggested by Edgar Allan Poe's classic tale of the same name.

Set in 19th century Paris, this semi-blasphemous tale told of "murders in the Rue Morgue" committed by mad, lunatic side-show Doctor Mirakle (Bela Lugosi) who owned a pet gorilla-ape, Erik (Charles Gemora) - a caged 'ape with a human brain'.

Mirakle's bestial motive was that he was searching for a human female to presumably mate with the ape-monster as a 'bride', or at least to mix their blood in some unholy way, to prove his theories of human evolution. When Mirakle couldn't find suitable or compatible female blood matches (they had 'impurities' due to often being prostitutes?) and they died as a result of the transfusions, he instructed his assistant Janos the Black One (Noble Johnson) to dump their bodies in the Seine River.

By the film's exciting ending when Mirakle attempted a final transfusion on abducted, sweet 'virginal' ingenue, Mme. Camille L'Espanaye (Sidney Fox), Erik turned on him, strangled him and broke his neck and scrambled off with the victim over the rooftops. The heroine Camille was saved by her heroic starving artist boyfriend/detective Pierre Dupin (Leon Waycoff (aka Leon Ames)) who shot Erik dead.

[Note: the murders in the original literary tale were committed by an orangutan, the escaped pet of a sailor.]

Music Box (1989)

The Contents of a Hungarian Music Box Retrieved from a US Pawn Shop Incriminated Hungarian-American Immigrant Mike Laszlo as a Nazi Sympathizer and Zealous Killer of Jews During World War II

Costa-Gavras directed Joe Eszterhas' script, a remake (of sorts) of his earlier plot-twisting Jagged Edge (1985), with a Holocaust background, or the Costa-Gavras/Eszterhas film from a year earlier titled Betrayed (1988) with a backdrop of white supremacy and Klansmen.

In the courtroom drama and political mystery, unglamorous and sturdy Chicago defense lawyer Ann Talbot (Jessica Lange) stubbornly believed in her beloved elderly, widowed father's innocence. Michael Laszlo (Armin Mueller-Stahl) was a retired steelworker who had immigrated from Hungary in the last days of World War II. When charged with lying to gain US citizenship and threatened with deportation, he was also uncovered and accused by the crusading federal prosecutor Jack Burke (Frederic Forrest) of not only being an office clerk in his past, but a fascistic Nazi war criminal.

Burke charged that Laszlo was "Mishka" - the ruthless young captain and leader of a Nazi-trained, Special Section death squad named Arrowcross - "evil incarnate." Laszlo claimed he was innocent of cruel gang rapes, sadistic killings, and brutalities on the banks of the Danube River: "It's not me. I am not a beast. I am a good American." Blindly and emotionally unbelieving, Ann went on a search to prove that her father was being framed by a revenge-seeking Hungarian Communist government because he was fiercely anti-Communist. As more and more evidence and witnesses seemed to discredit her father (including Laszlo's many blackmail payments to a Hungarian friend named Tibor), the devoted daughter began to have doubts about his past.

Then, a pawn shop ticket given to Ann by deceased Tibor's elderly sister in Budapest led to a music box in a pawn shop in the US. As she activated the music box, it dispensed a number of incriminating black and white photographs of her father committing the alleged crimes. She exposed and revealed his guilt to Jack Burke by mailing him a typed letter (with enclosed photographs) - they soon after became the daily newspaper's headlines.

Mystic River (2003)

Dave Boyle, Suspected of Killing Jimmy Markum's Daughter Katie, Was Innocent (Although He Had Murdered a Child Molester); The Real Killers Were 'Silent' Ray Harris, Jr. and Pal John O'Shea; Markum Blamed Dave and Killed Him, Dumping His Body in Mystic River

The resolution of the murder case, the centerpiece of the film, was explained by Massachusetts State homicide detective Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon) to his boyhood friend - grieving ex-con and corner grocery-store owner Jimmy Markum (Oscar-winning Best Actor Sean Penn), whose 19 year-old daughter Katie Markum (Emmy Rossum) was the murder victim.

The confessed killers were revealed to have known the victim through a clue on a 911 call tape, and found indirectly by tracing the gun back to its registered owner "Just Ray" Harris and to a previous Looney Liquors hold-up 18 years earlier. The two murderers were identified as:

  • deaf-mute 'Silent' Ray Harris Jr. (Spencer Treat Clark) - the younger brother of Brendan Harris (Tom Guiry) who was Katie's boyfriend, and the youngest son of 'Just Ray' Harris
  • skateboard pal John O'Shea (Andrew Mackin)

The two were playing with a gun that night and only meant to scare her, but during the prank they hit her with a bullet shot. When she knocked them down with her car door and fled, they chased after her and beat her to death in the local zoo/park with a hockey stick. Their motive: 'Silent' Ray feared that Brendan was leaving to elope with Katie to Las Vegas and would abandon him. He knew where his father's gun was secretly hidden above the Harris' kitchen ceiling, and used it in the accidental murder.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Markum had suspected a third boyhood friend as the murderer - a disturbed, violated, and haunted sexual abuse victim Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins) who had claimed on the same night that he murdered a pedophile in the parking lot of McGill's bar (where Katie was also seen dancing seductively before her late-night murder), having sex with a child prostitute. He said he had put the bloody body in his trunk, and dumped the body behind the bar. At first before confessing, he suspiciously claimed that he got his hand caught in a garbage disposal.

Markum forced an innocent Dave to admit that he committed Katie's murder after repeatedly threatening: "Admit what you did, Dave, and I'll let you live" - and then knifed him in the stomach, shot him in the head, and dumped his body in the Mystic River - only a few hours before the real killers were identified. Jimmy lamented to Sean: "If only you had been a little faster," clueing the detective into realizing that Jimmy had killed him (but Devine did not press charges).

Dave was killed in the same location where Jimmy had shot and killed "Just Ray" Harris for ratting him out and sending him to jail for two years.

Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings

(alphabetical by film title)
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M1 | M2 | M3 | M4 | M5 | N | O | P1 | P2 | Q-R1 | R2 | S1 | S2 | S3 | S4 | S5 | S6 | T1 | T2 | T3 | U-V | W1 | W2 | W3 | X-Z

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