Greatest Film Plot Twists
Film Spoilers and
Surprise Endings


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

A Soldier's Story (1984)

Hated Drill Sergeant Waters Was Killed By Black Pvt. First Class Peterson, In Retaliation for Driving Illiterate Black Recruit "Geechee" C.J. Memphis to Commit Suicide After He Was Set Up and Jailed

Norman Jewison's murder mystery was set during the WWII era (1944), in a time of segregationist Jim Crow laws in the South, and an atmosphere of racism and bitterness. The locale was Fort Neal in Louisiana - a segregated Southern military base for black platoons. The tagline described the plot's main outline:

Alone, far from home, and far from justice, he has three days to learn the truth about a murder...and the truth is a story you won't forget.

The precipitating event was the murder (with a .45 caliber pistol) of a bitterly-resented officer of Company B:

  • Master Sergeant Vernon Waters (Adolph Caesar), a hated, unpopular black drill instructor

His last words were: "They still hate you. They still hate you."

The investigation (told through flashbacks) was conducted by:

  • Captain Davenport (Howard E. Rollins), an African-American attorney brought down from Washington, DC

It was at first thought that the drunken Waters was killed by white officers or the Ku Klux Klan. However, there were doubts raised because Waters' uniform stripes and insignia hadn't been ripped off - a typical indication. Davenport faced many obstacles in his investigation: deceit, prejudice, lack of cooperation, a resistant chain of command, and black troops who were afraid to talk. Many of those questioned, including a number of fellow soldiers (black and white), had a motive to kill Waters.

There were also conflicting accounts about Waters' nature - was he tyrannical, or good-natured? During the case, one pivotal character emerged:

  • "Geechee" C. J. Memphis (Larry Riley), an illiterate, guitar-strumming soldier

Waters had derogatory feelings toward C.J. - he called him "Geechee" - and admitted that he had already jailed five previous "Geechee" recruits like C.J. To set up the despised C.J., Waters tricked him, provoked him, caused him to strike back, then charged him with hitting a superior officer, and jailed him.

Sergeant Waters described his racist feelings toward inferior blacks like C.J. - he spoke directly to the unjustly incarcerated C.J. behind bars:

You see, the First War didn't change nothin' for the Negro. But this one gonna change everything. Them Nazis ain't all crazy. Whole lot of people just can't seem to fit in to where things seem to be goin'. Like you, CJ. See, the Black race can't afford you no more. Oh, there used to be a time, we'd see someone like you singin', clownin', yassuh-bossin', and we wouldn't do anything. Folks liked that. You were good. Homey kind of nigger. When they needed somebody to mistreat, call a name or two, they paraded you. Reminded them of the good ol' days. Not no more. The day of the Geechee is gone, boy. And you're goin' with it. We can't let nobody go on believin' we're all fools like you. I waited a long time for you, boy. But I got ya. I put two Geechees in jail in Camp Campbell, Kentucky. Three in Fort Huachuca. Now I've got you. One less fool for the race to be ashamed of.

Shortly later, C.J. was driven to commit suicide - he was found hanging from his jail cell bars.

In the conclusion, it was revealed that Waters had been killed by unrepentant, resentful and militant Pvt. First Class Peterson (Denzel Washington) who explained that the murder was revenge for driving C.J. to kill himself.

Peterson confessed to Davenport:

Peterson: "I didn't kill much. Some things need gettin' rid of. A man like Waters never did nobody no good anyway, Cap'n."
Davenport: "Who gave you the right to judge? To decide who is fit to be a Negro and who is not? Who?"

"Geechee" C. J. Memphis (Larry Riley)

C.J. Jailed by Waters

Capt. Davenport (Howard E. Rollins)

Drunken Sgt. Waters (Adolph Caesar) The Night of His Murder

The Murderer: Pvt. First Class Peterson (Denzel Washington)

Peterson's Confession to Davenport

Some Like It Hot (1959)

After Proposing, Wealthy Suitor Osgood Was Unflustered That Daphne Was a Man

Although this classic comedy lacked a typical surprise ending or ingenious plot twist, it still ended with a great closing scene that contained the greatest fade-out line in film history.

The two couples took off in a getaway boat:

  • in the back, Joe/Josephine (Tony Curtis), impersonating a rich yacht-owning millionaire, seated next to band member Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe)
  • in the front, yacht owner Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown), driving and seated next to Jerry/Daphne (Jack Lemmon)

In the film's classic closing scene, Joe literally removed his blonde wig and feminine clothing to reveal his true identity. The vulnerable Sugar knew of the hoax and his deceitfulness as a fake millionaire, but vowed to love the "no-goodnik" anyway.

Next, rich suitor Osgood Fielding III resumed his persistently-amorous attention toward Daphne/Jerry, and proposed marriage. Jerry attempted to end his relationship with Osgood, breaking the news gently to him by discouraging his affection. There are many limitations, Daphne/Jerry argued, including her physical shape, her hair color, her smoking habit, the fact that 'she' had sinfully "been living with a saxophone player", and the problem of infertility. Finally in exasperation after she/he was unsuccessful and failed miserably, Daphne/Jerry gave up trying to break the news gently to him to discourage his unflappable affection. He finally revealed the obvious mismatched gender problem:

Osgood: I called Mama. She was so happy she cried. She wants you to have her wedding gown. It's white lace.
Jerry-Daphne: Yeah, Osgood. I can't get married in your mother's dress. Ha ha. That-she and I, we are not built the same way.
Osgood (unflappable): We can have it altered.
Jerry-Daphne: Aw no you don't! Osgood, I'm gonna level with you. We can't get married at all.
Osgood: Why not?
Jerry: Well, in the first place, I'm not a natural blonde.
Osgood: Doesn't matter.
Jerry-Daphne: I smoke. I smoke all the time.
Osgood: I don't care.
Jerry-Daphne: Well, I have a terrible past. For three years now, I've been living with a saxophone player.
Osgood: I forgive you.
Jerry-Daphne: I can never have children.
Osgood (unperturbed): We can adopt some.
Jerry-Daphne (whipping off his wig, utterly exasperated, and declaring his manhood): You don't understand, Osgood. (Changing to manly voice.) I'm a man.
Osgood (unruffled, undaunted and still in love): Well, nobody's perfect.

The Getaway Boat

Joe (Tony Curtis) and Sugar (Marilyn Monroe)

Osgood (Joe E. Brown) and Daphne/Jerry (Jack Lemmon)

Sophie's Choice (1982)

After Sophie Chose to Save Her Son During the War, She and Partner Nathan Chose to Suicidally End Their Lives

In this post war-time drama set in 1947 by writer/director Alan J. Pakula with multiple flashbacks, Polish-Catholic refugee/immigrant Zofia "Sophie" Zawistowski (Oscar-winning Meryl Streep) had relocated and was living in Brooklyn, NY with frequently-drunk, mentally unstable lover Nathan Landau (Kevin Kline), who falsely claimed to be a research chemist.

In the same dingy boarding house was aspiring Southern writer-author Stingo (Peter MacNichol). He learned about his flamboyant upstairs neighbors, one of whom he discovered was a haunted, Nazi prison camp survivor. Holocaust-obsessed, Jewish Nathan had 'saved' Sophie after she had been liberated.

In her past, she had suffered tragedy in the Auschwitz concentration camp where she was interned and imprisoned. She had to make a difficult and horrible choice between her two children - which of them would be executed. In the heartbreaking scene, she begged not to choose, but was forced to make a decision - to send her daughter Eva (Jennifer Lawn) to a crematorium ("Take my little girl"), while her son Jan (Adrian Kalkika) would go to a child labor camp (she never found out about his fate).

In the film's downbeat ending, the self-loathing Sophie made love with Stingo, but then left his bed with a hand-written suicide note for him on the pillow. Tormented and guilt-ridden by her memories, she returned to Nathan, and with him suicidally took sodium cyanide.

During the Holocaust - Sophie: "Take my little girl"

Sophie With Stingo (Peter MacNichol)

Suicide With Nathan Landau (Kevin Kline)

Soul Survivors (2001)

The Car Accident Killed Everyone Except Cassie and Boyfriend Sean, Although Cassie Remained in a Coma Hovering in the World Between the Dead and Living. Sean Brought Her Back Through His Love, Although She Was Struggling to Return to Life. All of Her Experiences and Delusionary Dreams Were Due to Coma Induced By Head Trauma

This poorly-executed, bland PG-13 psychological thriller, a stereotypical teen horror film from writer/director Steve Carpenter. [After its theatrical release as a PG-13 film, the DVD release was dubbed "The Killer Cut" with additional flashes of nudity, gore and obscenities.]

It gave away its basic plot twist in its tagline:

"The World of the Dead and the World of the Living...Are About to Collide."

It was an ordinary film with the cliched plot twist found in Jacob's Ladder (1990), The Sixth Sense (1999), and The Others (2001).

There were two killers in the film's prologue (so to speak), both of whom would continue to appear later in the film.

  • Hideous Dancer (Ken Moreno), long-haired and scar-faced
  • Deathmask (Carl Paoli), wearing a clear plastic mask

The duo assaulted sorority girl Kathy/Cathie? (Carrie Southworth in an uncredited role as Murdered Girl) (Cassie's alter-ego?) on 'fraternity row', slit her wrist, and drained her life's blood.

Next, the film's deadly accident was the main turning point - it included most of the major characters, who were occupants in a van after a night of partying:

  • Cassie (Melissa Sagemiller), blonde, Middleton College (in Chicago) student freshman, the stressed driver
  • Sean (Casey Affleck), Cassie's current boyfriend

  • Matt (Wes Bentley), Cassie's ex-boyfriend, still pining for her
  • Annabel (Eliza Dushku), Matt's trampy girlfriend

[The other car's occupants were androgynous Raven (Angela Featherstone), Hideous Dancer and Deathmask. Later, the two killers portrayed Cassie's sinister, other-worldly visitors-stalkers for the remainder of the film, with no explanation as to who they were - except maybe ghosts from the afterlife with nefarious intent. In the film's ending, it was revealed that the occupants of the other car involved in the crash - Raven, Deathmask, and Hideous Dancer - were fatally injured.]

The viewer was led to believe that everyone survived except Cassie and her boyfriend Sean, who had pledged his love to the reluctant Cassie just before the crash.

Without even watching the film, one could speculate that the 'soul survivors' of the film's title were the only two survivors of a deadly car accident that occurred early in the film, and the main protagonist Cassie was struggling to live afterwards. The film wanted you to believe that she survived, but was experiencing strange and ambiguous happenings in her daily student life while hovering between 'the world of the dead and living.' The surprise ending, although predictable, was un-climactic and trite.

After recovering, Cassie was accompanied by Matt, Annabel and Raven (now lesbian lovers), who all seemed to have turned dark, goth and ghoulish. Sean also fleetingly appeared to her, telling her:

"Don't let go. Come with me...Away from here. The guys are gonna keep chasing you. Cassie, I want you with me. Do you love me?... If you stay here, you're going to die."

She was also counseled by the spirit of a kindly Priest named Jude (Luke Wilson) who had died in 1981, years earlier. Cassie was haunted by guilt, because she didn't reciprocate her love for her boyfriend Sean just before the crash.

As the film ended, flashbacks to the crash scene revealed that Sean and Cassie were the only survivors, but Cassie was in a coma in the hospital and struggling to come back after suffering serious head trauma. The entire film was composed of her out-of-body hallucinations, delusions, thoughts, and fears in a supernatural realm. She had misrepresented reality in her unconscious dreams. She fought off death while in these dreams, as Jude explained:

"It's been another kind of time. It's like a dream that your mind has created to keep you from waking up to what you're not ready to accept. You're fighting...I know that even a dream of life is better than facing death."

She claimed she loved Sean and asserted she wanted to come back for him: "I don't want to die...I would die for him...I don't want to die." She called out for him, and apologized: "I never told you...I-I love you" before they kissed, and she revived and came back to life.

In the final scene, she woke up from another disturbing dream, but she was alive, next to Sean in bed. She nodded when he asked: "That dream again?"

The Two Killers in Prologue

The Van and Accident

Cassie Brought Back by Her Boyfriend Sean

Source Code (2011)

After Successfully Thwarting the Train Disaster (and Apprehending the Terrorist) and Saving All the Passengers, Stevens Came to Life Again Within the Body of Teacher Sean Fentress in an "Alternate Reality" - Source Code Had Actually Altered the Past!

Director Duncan Jones' sci-fi thriller had hints of Groundhog Day (1993), Retroactive (1997), and Run, Lola, Run (1998). Its tagline was:

Make Every Second Count

It opened with 17th Airborne helicopter pilot/soldier Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) on a Chicago-bound commuter rail train, a few stops from downtown. He was disoriented as to who he was, why he was on the train, and the identity of the pretty unknown woman seated across from him, dark-haired 28 year-old Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan) - and in just eight minutes time, the train and all of its approximately 100 occupants were obliterated by a massive explosion. Just before the explosion, she assured him: "Everything's gonna be okay."

After the explosion, he found himself enclosed in a small, dark geodesic-shaped, metal space capsule (part of his neural environment). He was in contact with a control center, code-named Beleaguered Castle, located at the Nellis Air Force military base near Las Vegas, Nevada. He was communicating and monitored via a video screen, with a uniformed female handler - divorced Air Force Capt. Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga).

Stevens had been paired up or implanted with the memories of one of the blast victims compatible with him - history teacher Sean Fentress. He was linked up to Fentress' avatar in the last eight minutes of his life, the length of a "short-term memory track" in the brain after death, that also provided a temporary 8-minute window into the parallel universe.

Although unwilling, Stevens (as Fentress) was tasked with the mission to continually be resent into the Source Code to go back to the scene of the explosion, to determine the identity of the terrorist bomber on the train - to save lives and prevent a second city-wide radioactive blast of a "dirty bomb" that threatened the entire Chicago population.

[Note: The film eventually revealed that Stevens had actually died two months earlier during his last combat mission in Afghanistan as a decorated Air Force helicopter pilot, but part of his brain's consciousness had been salvaged and he was being kept alive for this experiment with Source Code - described as "quantum mechanics, parabolic calculus." The mutilated remains of Stevens' corpse were wired up to monitoring sensors and computer read-outs at the base.]

The female officer's duty was to orient him after each devastating blast (with tricks similar to the triggering device in The Manchurian Candidate (1962)), with a story containing code words, a sequence of playing cards, and a recording of a Western screech owl, followed by an exercise in pattern recall. He kept asking questions about his unit and crew, when he could call his father, and whether he had been evacuated or not, but wasn't given answers.

Goodwin was supervised by Dr. Strangelove-esque superior Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright).

[Note: Dr. Rutledge explained that the Source Code experiment regarding the train, a sophisticated time-loop software program, wasn't actually time travel: "Source Code is time re-assignment. It gives us access to a parallel reality....You cannot alter the continuum of this reality from within the Source Code."]

Goodwin explained the nature of the mission: "The program wasn't designed to alter the past. It was designed to affect the future" - meaning that Stevens could save future lives only, not the lives of the passengers on the ill-fated train. Stevens asked Rutledge and Goodwin to terminate his service (and life support) and let him die once and for all ("There will be no coming back"). They promised that they would comply with his wishes once his mission was accomplished and he identified the bomber.

During each recreated, frustrating short trip on the train, played numerous times (each with crucial variations and sometimes deadly consequences), Goodwin (as Fentress) was instructed to learn about the various passengers ("Get to know them. Narrow the suspect pool. Look for ones who seem quiet or withdrawn. Who seem nervous"). He pursued and questioned a sickly Middle-Eastern looking man, stand-up comedian Max Denoff, a bearded software engineer with a backpack, an older woman with the tote bag from Walter Reed Military Hospital, a man who had deliberately dropped his wallet (the terrorist himself), and more.

By the end of the film, he had solved the mystery, reported disgruntled terrorist Derek Frost's (Michael Arden) rented white van license (with the dirty bomb inside), and a SWAT team had arrested the terrorist. However, the train's explosion still hadn't been averted. Stevens asked Goodwin for one final opportunity to alter events - although discouraged and told it was impossible - to avert the train disaster and save the passengers, including Christina - and then die peacefully:

I'm asking you. I'm asking you. Send me back in. Then switch me off.

Granted the opportunity, he located the bomb planted above a vent in the train's bathroom, with two cell-phone detonators. Against all odds, Stevens was able to successfully thwart the train bombing, disarm and handcuff Derek Frost, send a cell-phone description of the terrorist, and report the location of the van carrying the bomb.

Then, Colter Stevens (posing as Sean Fentress) phoned his estranged father Donald Stevens (voice of Scott Bakula), who was still grieving Colter's death in the war. He was able to reconcile himself with his father - and resolve long-standing issues:

Stevens: "My name is Sean Fentress. I served with your son, Colter."
Father: "...All that came back was some ash. It's hard to believe that it was him. How well did you know him?"
Stevens: "Uh, I was there when he died, Sir. He said that that last time that you guys talked was tough, and, uh, he wanted to say that he was sorry."
Father: "I just want him back. I loved him so much. I wish I could have told him that."
Stevens: "He knows it. Take care, Mr. Stevens."

Then, going back on his word, Rutledge ordered Stevens' memory to be erased and reinitialize Source Code - so he could be reused for future missions. In the final few seconds of the last eight-minute time frame aboard the train, Stevens and Christina kissed. The frame froze - at the same moment that Goodwin was about to turn off Stevens' life support.

To his surprise, he came to life again (in a "parallel reality") in an alternate universe ("a whole new world") within Sean Fentress' body - he was saved along with everyone else. He was enjoying a perfectly beautiful day in downtown Chicago with Christina.

To prove that it was possible to alter reality, he had sent Capt. Goodwin an email (with some of the code-words from the familiar story he had heard earlier) that ended the film - about how Source Code had succeeded in providing him with new life, as the train attack was thwarted and the terrorist was caught. Goodwin's email was read (in voice-over with Stevens' voice), as the film ended. He was awaiting assignment to a new "mission" from his alternate universe:

Lily awoke in an evening dress and an opera cloak. In her hand were five playing cards. At some point today, you're gonna hear about a failed terrorist attack on a commuter train near Chicago. You and I kept that bomb from going off....If you're reading this e-mail, then Source Code works even better than you and Dr. Rutledge imagined. You thought you were creating eight minutes of a past event, but you're not. You've created a whole new world. Goodwin, if I'm right, somewhere at the Source Code facility, you have a Captain Colter Stevens waiting to send on a mission. Promise me you'll help him. And when you do, do me a favor: tell him everything is gonna be okay.

Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal)

Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan)

Train Explosion

Air Force Capt. Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga)

Stevens Apprehending Terrorist Bomber Derek Frost at His Van

The Dirty Bomb in the Van

Stevens Phoning His Father, As Sean Fentress

The Last Successful Trip Into Train

The Kiss

Stevens' Comatose Mutilated Body Hooked Up to Sensors - On Life Support

Day in Chicago

Stevens, Still Comatose, But in a Parallel Reality - Ready for a "New Mission"

Soylent Green (1973)

'Soylent Green' Was Artificial Processed Food Rations - Made of Recycled People, Discovered by Detective Thorn to Feed an Overpopulated and Polluted World in the Year 2022.

This early cautionary 70s science-fiction film by Richard Fleischer, set in an overpopulated, impoverished and polluted world of 2022, contained a surprise ending, although it has since become common knowledge that the film contained a twist regarding its title "Soylent Green" due to the film's trailer asking:

"What is the Secret of Soylent Green?"

In the revealing trailer, two conveyor belts were shown, one with body bags, the other with green food. The title referred to a type of artificial or processed food substance rationed out to the lower and middle-class populace in the crowded metropolitan areas.

The film's lengthy tagline teased about the movie title:

It's the year 2022... People are still the same. They'll do anything to get what they need. And they need SOYLENT GREEN.

New York City Detective Thorn (Charlton Heston) had been assigned to investigate the murder of a wealthy businessman, William R. Simonson (Joseph Cotten), an influential board member of the financially-profitable Soylent Corporation that was manufacturing healthy, high-energy green wafers from ocean plankton.

In the film's conclusion, Detective Thorn was at the death bed of Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson in his final film role) in an assisted-suicide facility known as the "Home" (within Madison Square Garden). He had chosen a poignant, painless and suicidal death in the euthanasia clinic's chamber. He was put to rest (to "go home") with orange-hued lighting, classical music playing (Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique" Symphony No. 6, Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony No. 6, and segments of Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite") and projected video (of a peaceful and "beautiful" green Earth ages ago when animal and plant life thrived and there was no pollution).

Sol died amidst the musical and visual montages with his tearful friend Thorn near him in a sealed control room. Before dying, Sol told Thorn: "I've lived too long." Thorn replied: "I love you, Sol." Thorn was astounded by the images: "How could I know? How could I, how could I ever imagine?" Then Sol revealed what he had learned about Soylent Green and its major secret, before choosing assisted suicide with a lethal drug:

Horrible. Simonson. Soylent. Listen to me, Thorn. Thorn, listen....You've got to prove it, Thorn. Go to the Exchange. Please, Thorn. You've got to prove it. Thorn. The Exchange.

Thorn then proved the horrifying, predictable discovery of the true composition of the Soylent Corporation's new artificial food product Soylent Green - it was not composed of ocean plankton - ruled an impossibility by The Exchange (a group of oceanographic researchers) due to barren ocean conditions. Instead, it was composed of the recycled bodies of the deceased inhabitants of the society's euthanasia centers.

Thorn made a desperate plea to his lieutenant partner, police chief Hatcher (Brock Peters) as he was dragged away after being shot in the leg:

It's people! Soylent Green is made out of people! They're making our food out of people. Next thing they'll be breeding us like cattle for food... Soylent Green is people! We've gotta stop them somehow!

Sol Roth's (Edward G. Robinson) Death Bed

Conveyor Belt of Green Food

"Soylent Green is People!"

The Spanish Prisoner (1997)

Joe Was Conned by Everyone (Jimmy Dell, Pat McCune, Susan and Mr. Klein) To Steal His Valuable "Process" Invention; Joe Was Saved When US Marshals Arrested the Cons --- But Maybe Joe Was Again Being Conned When He Thought He Had Been Vindicated?

Writer-director David Mamet's suspenseful dramatic thriller was based on the age-old confidence trick (or con), similar to the Nigerian email scam, in which a gullible mark was convinced to turn over something valuable (usually money).

In the "Spanish Prisoner" trick (described by a fake FBI agent in the film as the "oldest con in the world" that plays on "vanity and greed"), the duped individual was convinced to help release an unidentified imprisoned wealthy Spanish individual, to later be rewarded (by the prisoner's fortune and girl).

In the intriguing film set in March of 1997, naive corporate engineer Joe Ross (Campbell Scott) had developed (or invented), with co-developer and lawyer George Lang (Ricky Jay), a top-secret, unpatented program (or formula) created during a work-for-hire contract. It was dubbed "The Process," and was supposedly a proprietary means for businesses to become extremely lucrative ("to control the global market").

Select company members traveled to a corporate retreat at the Caribbean island resort of St. Estephe, popular with Japanese tourists. [Early in the film, Joe was told that security videotapes of the dock area were kept for insurance purposes.] Joe spoke about the formula (only one copy existed) to corporate executives including Joe's own boss, Mr. Klein (Ben Gazzara), who kept putting him off about special bonus compensation. Joe boasted that his invention was designed to put their company 3-5 years ahead of others, and make lots of money.

Ross quickly became acquainted with various individuals during the Caribbean island business trip:

  • Susan Ricci (Rebecca Pidgeon), flirtatious and perky, one of the new secretaries of Joe's own company; she claimed that she only had a "secretary mentality"
  • Julian "Jimmy" W. Dell (Steve Martin), a shady, wealthy, witty and polished resort guest, who claimed to have flown in from Bermuda
  • Pat McCune (Felicity Huffman), who claimed to be an FBI agent (in the Manhattan office)

As Joe was about to return to NY, Jimmy asked him to deliver a small package to his "young and pretty" sister Mrs. Emma DaSilva at the Wiltshire. She was reported to be an Olympic-class tennis player. Joe opened the brown-paper wrapped package - it was a 1939 book titled "Budge on Tennis." Jimmy continually encouraged Joe to socially meet his sister once they both returned to NY, claiming that Joe was "a good fellow" - but various misunderstandings and issues always prevented it.

Susan quipped tell-tale lines to Joe on the returning plane about trust: "Shows to go you, you never know who anybody is...Who in this world is what they seem."

And Jimmy advised Joe about not trusting his boss Klein:

"Always do business as if the person you're doing business with is trying to screw you, because most likely they are," (and he added) "People aren't that complicated, Joe. Good people. Bad people. They generally look like what they are."

To protect his interests, Jimmy urged Joe to meet with his own recommended non-company lawyer, and asked Joe to bring his sole copy of "The Process" to a 10 am meeting with the lawyer at the carousel in the park. Joe began to suspect that Jimmy was a con artist (and wanted to steal his work), so he arranged to meet with FBI Agent Pat McCune to set up a sting-operation, and Joe was wired for the meeting.

Revelations in the film began to come out, and the various deceptions of the con game were unwound. Joe was the one who was being swindled as the mark (an innocent victim). Joe was made to look suspicious, for selling his "Process" for a huge sum of money before fleeing to Venezuela:

  • Jimmy's "little sister" Emma kept missing appointments - she existed, but Joe discovered that she was an older, frail woman when she was identified for him by the doorman in front of the Wiltshire
  • FBI Agent Pat McCune wasn't who she said she was - Joe's call to the real FBI revealed a male Pat McCune; the imposter McCune was in on Jimmy's deception, and the sting was a completely bogus exercise
  • Joe realized that his one-copy of the "Process" was stolen during preparations for the sting - his red binder was replaced with one having only blank pages
  • The places Joe met with Jimmy in NY (the restaurant, club) were faked.
  • The certificate Joe signed to become a club member (a trick) was a request to flee to Venezuela (a country with no extradition treaty) for "political asylum."
  • And the Swiss bank account Jimmy opened for Joe as a joke made him look suspicious
  • Joe was accused by Mr. Klein of selling the "Process" to the Japanese
  • Joe was also framed for the murder of his partner George Lang (stabbed with Joe's own "Be Prepared" Boy Scout knife). He fled with Susan to Boston and became a fugitive
  • Joe planned to return to St. Estephe, to acquire surveillance videotapes at the resort to prove the existence of Jimmy to the authorities. In Boston's airport security line, another passenger clued him in that Jimmy's fingerprints were on the "Budge on Tennis" book (Joe still had the original), so he aborted his trip.
  • Susan's airplane ticket for Joe had him flying not to the Caribbean resort, but to Venezuela - tipping off Susan as Jimmy's accomplice. Susan was also spotted speaking to imposter McCune. Their plan was to have Joe shot at the airport, and also charged with kidnapping Susan
  • While fleeing with Susan (on the Boston Airport ferry shuttle), the menacing Jimmy appeared, planning to kill Joe and make it look like a suicide. Jimmy divulged that the "Process" was sold to Switzerland, put on CD-ROM, and he would be paid $100 million for killing Joe
  • Joe was saved from being killed by two Japanese tourists (claiming they were US Marshals in disguise) on the ferry, who shot Jimmy (with a stun-gun tranquilizer) and arrested Susan. Joe was told that Mr. Klein had set up the whole thing, to steal the "Process"
  • After everyone was arrested and taken away, Joe was left alone on the dock, without his "Process" being returned - had he been even more royally swindled?

Joe Ross (Campbell Scott)

George Lang (Ricky Jay)

Susan Ricci (Rebecca Pidgeon)

Mr. Klein (Ben Gazzara)

Pat McCune (Felicity Huffman)

"The Process" Red Binder

The Red Binder With Blank Pages

Signed Certificate - To Flee to Venezuela

Airplane Ticket to Venezuela

Julian "Jimmy" W. Dell (Steve Martin)

The Ferry

Jimmy and Susan Arrested and Taken Away

Joe Ross (Campbell Scott) Left on Dock

Spellbound (1945)

Dr. Edwardes Was an Imposter named Ballantine (or "JB") - Treacherous Killer Dr. Murchison Had Framed Him For the Murder of Edwardes; Murchison Committed Suicide

Hitchcock's suspense thriller revealed that incoming handsome psychologist Dr. Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck) - selected to replace the outgoing Green Manors asylum director Dr. Murchison (Leo G. Carroll) - was actually a paranoid, amnesia-suffering imposter named Dr. John Ballantine or "JB" (also Gregory Peck), who was suffering from neurosis and memory loss.

Ballantine frequently saw disturbing images of parallel lines in his dreams - fork grooves on a tablecloth, faint lines in a robe, and snow tracks. These lines recalled a traumatic ski accident at Gabriel Valley that he witnessed, in which his psychiatrist Dr. Edwardes fell off a steep precipice and died during a skiing vacation. When the police recovered Edwardes' corpse, they discovered a bullet wound in the body's back and suspected John Ballantine of murder.

Ballantine also experienced a dream in which he was playing blackjack (21) at a casino (with eyes on the walls) with a seven of clubs, a bearded man and a faceless proprietor, including images of a sloping roof, a man with a misshapen wheel, and pursuit by a giant pair of wings - (the sloping roof was tied to JB's memory of his brother's accidental and tragic death by impalement on a spiked fence, when he slid down the roof and accidentally knocked his brother off - killing him on the spiked railing).

In the film's ending, psychiatrist Dr. Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) realized Murchison's treachery after he said: "I knew Edwardes only slightly. I never really liked him. But he was a good man, in a way, I suppose." She immediately knew that if he had known Edwardes, he shouldn't have mistaken the imposter Ballantine for Edwardes.

In his office, Murchison then interpreted some of JB's dream for her:

The Interpretation of Dr. John Ballantine's (JB's) Dreams
the seven of clubs the 21 Club or Green Manors (where an initial argument had occurred between Edwardes and Murchison)
the eyes the Green Manors' guards
the bearded man Ballantine's analyst Dr. Edwardes
the angry proprietor of the club who threatened Dr. Edwardes Dr. Murchison
the wheel the revolver Murchison used to kill Edwardes on the ski slope

Motivated by jealousy and not wanting his job stolen, Murchison had used Ballantine's disabilities to frame him for the murder of Edwardes (there was a bullet in his body, delivered from Murchison's gun in full view of Ballantine). Constance advised Murchison not to murder her ("A man with your intelligence does not commit a stupid murder") when he pulled the murder weapon from his desk and threatened her ("The punishment for two murders is the same as for one").

As she got up and left the room to phone the police, he held the murder weapon pointed at her back, as she cautioned: "If you shoot now, it is cold deliberate murder." He memorably committed suicide in the conclusion by turning the gun on himself after she left his office - in a shocking first person point-of-view shot, with a splash of red color (in the B/W film).

Dr. Murchison (Leo G. Carroll)

Murder Weapon Pointed at Dr. Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman), Then Used For Murchison's Own Suicide

Spider (2002)

Imagining and Recollecting His Abusive Boyhood, Disheveled Schizophrenic Cleg (Nicknamed "Spider") Saw His Mother in Three Psychosexual Guises (Madonna-Mother, Whore-Stepmother, and As His Key-Bearing Jailer-Landlady) Before Being Reinstitionalized

David Cronenberg's disturbing, minimalist drama opened with a train's arrival, bearing the last passenger to disembark:

  • Mr. Dennis Cleg (Ralph Fiennes) nicknamed Spider (learned later), a mentally-disturbed, thin, oddly-behaving, and disheveled man

After being discharged from an asylum after 20 years, he had arrived in his boyhood town (the drab East End outskirts of London) where he was admitted into a half-way flophouse run by tyrannical Mrs. Wilkinson (Lynn Redgrave). It was located in an industrial area, next to a canal across from an imposing gas tank (foreshadowing later events).

The quiet, furtive, delusional and schizophrenic individual carried a suitcase full of junk. He was often mumbling to himself, distrustful of everyone, kept illegible scribblings (hieroglyphics) in a small grimy notepad hidden under his rug, had nicotine-stained fingers from his own rolled cigarettes, unkempt hair and he wore many layers of clothing. He kept his belongings in a sock stuffed down the front of his pants.

The film was named Spider due to Cleg's creation of a ceiling 'spider-web' made of discarded string in his solitary and dingy room. Other patterns of splintering spider's webs were found in Cleg's boyhood room and the cat's cradle string he played with, in the dayroom's winged bird puzzle, and in a broken sheet of glass at the asylum where Cleg had been committed.

Gradually, it became clear through time shifts that he was experiencing participatory flashbacks to his 1950s horrific boyhood and past as a pale, pathetic, reticent and frightened child (played by Bradley Hall). [However, the time shifts were totally unreliable and convoluted memories.] He watched his own psychological torment and abuse, as he relived earlier traumatic events suffered at the hands of his brutish, working man plumber father Bill (Gabriel Byrne), married to a maternal, protective Mrs. Cleg (Miranda Richardson). It was a tense relationship, since Cleg spent most of his time drinking and whore-mongering at the local pub, the Dog & Beggar.

One of the aggressive, slatternly, and brassy tarts in the pub, cackling, fleshy bleached-blonde Yvonne (also Miranda Richardson) with bad teeth, enticed Bill to her residence to fix her "pipes" - and soon they had messy masturbatory sex under a tunnel. She had flashed her breast at young Cleg in the pub, causing him distress. Young 'Spider' witnessed their cavortings, and then older 'Spider' watched as his mother was violently murdered by her husband (with a shovel blow to the head) when she saw him having lap sex with trampish Yvonne in a garden shed. Her bloody, wrapped body was buried in the nearby garden.

In Spider's young mind, Yvonne took over for his mother - and by film's end, everything redoubled back upon itself. Spider attempted to purposefully gas his father and/or slutty step-mother with an elaborate set of strings to open the stove's gas valve, and it appeared that he accidentally murdered his loving mother. The older Spider entered Yvonne's (or Mrs. Wilkinson's) bedroom (while she was sleeping) - with a hammer and screwdriver to harm her. He was again driven away to be incarcerated, as he had been when he was younger.

Admitted to Halfway House by Mrs. Wilkinson (Lynn Redgrave)

Mr. Dennis Cleg (Ralph Fiennes)

Yvonne (Miranda Richardson) at Pub

Cleg's (Spider's) Boyhood

Murder of Mrs. Cleg

Cleg With Hammer

"Spider" Driven Away to be Incarcerated

Splice (2010, Can./Fr./US)

The Male DREN Went on a Violent Rampage (Killing Clive and Raping Elsa), But Was Killed; Elsa Profited, and Was Pregnant (But Who Was the Father?)

This was a very unusual and erotic sci-fi thriller from director Vincenzo Natali. It was similar to various David Cronenberg films, David Lynch's Eraserhead, and the Alien and Species films. The film was a hybrid of its own, mixing a semi-serious examination of the ethical and moral dimensions of genetic experimentation with a bloody B-grade horror film (in its final 15 minutes).

It featured a young and rebellious, romantically-linked scientist couple: [Note: Their names paid homage to actor Colin Clive and Elsa Lanchester in the classic horror film Bride of Frankenstein (1935).]

  • Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody)
  • Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley)

The two were conducting genetic engineering experiments for their gene-splicing company, N.E.R.D. (Nucleic Exchange Research + Development), run by Bill Barlow (David Hewlett). Because of their success in creating two wormlike creatures (Fred and Ginger) to help provide cures for livestock diseases, the hipster duo were further funded by corporate giant Newstead Pharmaceuticals, Inc., run by Joan Chorot (Simona Maicanescu).

During this time when forbidden to push ethical boundaries, they neglected their medicinal protein synthesis work and began to conduct a secret, sophisticated genetic cloning 'experiment' in which they spliced together human and animal DNA, creating a hybrid creature.

Their experimental creature first resembled a hopping, skinned rabbit-like two-legged creature with a tail (named H-50). During accelerated growth into a preadolescent humanoid female (Abigail Chu) with amphibious lungs, the life-form was continually mothered and protected by the maternal Elsa. It was dressed up in a homespun blue dress, and parented like a pet or child (although Clive strongly desired to destroy it). Elsa named it DREN ("NERD" spelled backwards), the name of the couple's company. It evolved rapidly into a bald, partly-human mutant adult female (Delphine Chaneac) - a fantastical creature with striking slanted eyes, pointed tongue, a toxic tail-stinger, and bird-like, multi-hinged legs.

With her maternal instincts enlivened, Elsa seduced Clive on their couch one evening (with DREN observing from afar), and declined to have him use a condom (she remarked: "What's the worst that could happen?").

As the film progressed, the uncontrollable, 'monstrous', and troublesome female DREN was hidden at Elsa's childhood farmhouse home, where she became carnivorous, exhibited retractable wings (CGI), and killed their cat given to her as a pet. It was also revealed that Elsa had used samples of her own DNA to create DREN, causing Clive to realize that she had a "f--ked up" family history.

When DREN became more troublesome and unstable, Elsa reverted to scientifically studying the creature, and bound DREN on a table. She stripped DREN of her 'human' elements, including clothing, and surgically removed her tail-stinger. Clive was attracted to the infatuated DREN, and had unconventional sex with the creature (with hints of incest and bestiality) when she wrapped her winged-arms around him, naked - and he possibly impregnated her. During intercourse, she orgasmically expanded her wings and regenerated her stinger - just as Elsa arrived and caught them in the act.

After sex, the female creature appeared to die and was then buried, but regenerated into a male and became extremely violent (foreshadowed earlier in the film in the company shareholder's scene in which the two original hybrids, Fred and Ginger, both became hostile males and bloodily killed each other). At the farmhouse, the male DREN swooped down and killed both their boss Barlow and Clive's brother Gavin (Brandon McGibbon), raped Elsa (the creature demanded: "Inside you"), and when Clive attempted to rescue her by stabbing the creature in the back, he was stung to death in the heart with DREN's stinger, although Elsa was able to crush the creature's head with a rock and kill it.

In the final scene, Elsa was in the office of pharmaceuticals company head, learning that DREN's synthesized proteins and corpse ("a cauldron of unimaginable chemical mysteries") would save the company from bankruptcy ("We'll be filing patents for years"). Elsa would be paid well to lead the profitable company to "the next stage" if she kept silent forever about DREN. Elsa was also pregnant, repeating the line: "What's the worst that could happen?" when asked if she wanted to walk away.

The question remained: was her future offspring fathered by the male DREN or Clive?

Splicing Experiments

Young Humanoid Female (Abigail Chu)

Mutant Adult Female (Delphine Chaneac)

Sex Between Clive and DREN

Violent Regenerated Male Version of DREN

Pregnant Elsa (Sarah Polley)

Stardust Memories (1980)

The Film Was a "Film Within A Film," Being Screened at a Film Festival in the Stardust Hotel as a Tribute To Filmmaker Sandy Bates; The Three Main Women in the Filmmaker's Life Appeared as Themselves in the Film

Writer/director Woody Allen's self-indulgent, self-referential, often incoherent, impressionistic and dark semi-autobiographical comedy has been viewed as a tribute to Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963, It.), with references to Bergman's Wild Strawberries (1957) as well.

In its ending, the twist/plot device was revealed - the entire movie was a 'film-within-a-film.' However, the film was not straightforward - it was filled with non-linear flashbacks, flash-forwards and fantasies.

Pretentious and self-absorbed comedic film-maker/director Sandy Bates (or Woody Allen?), suffering from writer's block, was invited to a retrospective film festival/charity event of his own work, at the Stardust Hotel beach resort in New Jersey for the weekend. During the gathering of often annoying and time-consuming fans, groupies, scriptwriters, studio executives, friends, and autograph-seekers, Bates also struggled with his own career, his celebrity status, personal demons, aspirations, daydreams, and expectations. He complained about various diseases, human suffering, impotence, catastrophes, and his own bad luck.

The film being screened was actually an accounting of Sandy's love of a tangled trio of women (all of his partners were actresses in his film that was being screened):

  • Isobel (Marie-Christine Barrault), his married French mistress, a beautiful, charming maternal type who had just left her husband for him, Sandy's current girlfriend
  • Daisy (Jessica Harper), an intriguing but troubled bi-sexual, classical violinist and intellectual
  • Dorrie (Charlotte Rampling), his drug-abusing, unstable, anorexic ex-girlfriend

In the film's conclusion, Sandy recalled one of his happiest moments with Dorrie, the simple pleasure on a Sunday when she was reading the newspaper on his floor and he looked over at her:

"It was one of those great spring days, a Sunday, and you knew summer would be coming soon. And I remember that morning Dorrie and I had gone for a walk in the park. We came back to the apartment. We were just sort of sitting around. And I put on a record of Louis Armstrong, which was music that I grew up loving. It was very, very pretty, and I happened to glance over, and I saw Dorrie sitting there. And I remember thinking to myself how terrific she was and how much I loved her. And I don't know. I guess it was the combination of everything, the sound of that music, and the breeze, and how beautiful Dorrie looked to me. And for one brief moment, everything just seemed to come together perfectly, and I felt happy. Almost indestructible, in a way. And it's funny, that simple little moment of contact moved me in a very, very profound way."

The respected director had been praised for his earlier comedies, but now with this film ending, he feared being criticized for wanting to make films with more serious content (and without happy endings). Audience members, viewing the 'film-within-a-film', yelled out that his earlier films were funnier:

  • "Cop-Out Artist!"
  • "Why do all comedians turn out to be sentimental bores?"

Suddenly, Sandy fainted from "nervous tension," after an hallucination of being shot by a fan with a .32 caliber pistol. Isobel tended to him, then ran out when he kept calling out: "Dorrie!" Rushing outside after her, he was accosted by police who jailed him for having a .32 pistol in his car without a permit. During his incarceration, he was seen chasing after Isobel who had boarded a train compartment and was vowing to leave him.

He begged her to stay with him, by claiming that he had thought of a new and better ending for his film - the film being watched - about being on a train with Isobel and having a "good sentimental" relationship with her. She thought otherwise: "You like those dark women with all their problems...They give you a hard time and you like." Eventually, he convinced her to give him "a huge, big wet kiss" - it "would go a long way to selling this idea." He then added: "I'm very serious. I think this is a big, big finish, you know?" The train pulled out of the station as they hugged and kissed - and the audience clapped its approval of the film's coda.

Members of the audience commenting on the screened film afterwards included all three of the women in Sandy's life.

Sandy Bates (Woody Allen)

Dorrie (Charlotte Rampling)

The Screening: "Cop-out Artist!"

Isobel (Marie-Christine Barrault)

Sandy In Jail

The "Huge, Big Wet Kiss" That Ended The Film

The Screening Ends: The Applauding Film Audience

Audience Members: The Three Women in Sandy's Life

Starship Troopers (1997)

The Film Was a Propaganda Commercial for Military Recruitment

Paul Verhoeven's military-related adventure-action film was a combination spoof of militarism, and a violent science-fiction saga set in the 23rd century.

It told about a group of fresh-faced, gung-ho college graduates who enlisted and trained in the futuristic Federal Service (military) based on Earth, but with technology were allowed to explore other regions of the universe, including Klendathu. It was the homeworld of giant, intelligent, lethal pseudo-arachnid enemy of insect-inhabitants called "Bugs".

At the end, the entire film was revealed to be the broadcast of a propaganda film (a movie within a movie) to recruit young men and women to sign up for military service. The film ended with a commercial to "JOIN Up Now!" - a recruitment ad by a futuristic totalitarian military government in a 'fascist utopia.'

The Federal Network's narrator/announcer spoke (in voice-over):

We have the ships. We have the weapons. We need soldiers. Soldiers like Lieutenant Stack Lumbreiser...and Captain Carmen Ibanez....Soldiers like Private Ace Levy and Lieutenant John Rico...We need you all. Service guarantees citizenship.

The ending also posed the question about the identity of the aggressor - it was strongly suggested that the humans were the would-be world-conquering invaders!

Recruitment Ad For the Military

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

V'Ger Was NASA's Voyager 6 Space Probe That Had "Achieved Consciousness Itself"; Commander Decker Physically Merged With V'Ger by Uniting With Ilia

The film opened in the year 2271 with a massive bluish cloud, a vast energy-power field of some kind (an "alien object of unbelievable destructive power"), that threatened and destroyed three alien Klingon warships and the Starfleet's monitoring com station Epsilon 9. It was poised to destroy Earth itself ("the third planet of the solar system"), and revealed to have a "highly advanced mentality" that consisted of "a form of plasma energy." The powerful force was mysteriously named V'Ger, and its cryptic objective was:

to find the creator, to join with him...V'Ger and the creator will become one...The creator is that which created V'Ger...V'Ger is that which seeks the creator.

Spock (Leonard Nimoy) surmised during an unauthorized jet-pack 'space-walk' that the USS Enterprise had been taken "inside a living machine...a conscious living entity." Spock described how V'Ger was lonely and "has knowledge that spans this universe and yet with all its pure logic, V'Ger is barren, cold. No mystery. No beauty." V'Ger appeared to be asking questions, such as: "Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?" V'Ger was attempting to communicate with its creator (a machine), using a simple radio wave, but the creator was not answering.

Spock explained: "V'Ger is a child...evolving, learning, searching, instinctively needing...It knows only that it needs, Commander. But like so many of us, it does not know what." The "object at the heart of that cloud" in an inner "brain" chamber - "part of the vessel's inner mechanism" - was a transmitter ("a vital link between V'Ger and its creator").

The crew discovered that V'Ger (or Voyager) was formerly the unmanned scientific space probe and data-collecting transmitter Voyager 6 that was launched by NASA from Earth in the 20th century (with a mounted plaque that read VOYAGER VI) more than 300 years earlier. After disappearing into a black hole, it crash-landed on a planet inhabited by an alien race of living machines, was rebuilt with a new surrounding vessel (the cloud) to house V'Ger, and reprogrammed to continue collecting data and returning that information to its creator NASA on Earth - "on its journey back, it amassed so much knowledge, it achieved consciousness itself. It became a living thing." To have it completely fulfill its transmission, however, V'Ger insisted that it be joined with its creator to allow V'Ger to fully evolve.

Commander Willard Decker (Stephen Collins) sacrificially offered himself up to physically merge with V'Ger (symbolized by uniting with its android probe Ilia (Persis Khambatta) - the two were former human lovers) to provide a "human quality" - to merge human and machine. The merging took place in a dazzling, explosive shower of white light, creating a new glowing alien entity or non-corporeal life form ("We witnessed a birth. Possibly a next step in our evolution") from which the USS Enterprise emerged - unscathed for its next mission.

V'Ger (formerly the Voyager Unmanned Spacecraft)

Commander Willard Decker (Stephen Collins) Merging With V'Ger (represented by Ilia (Persis Khambatta))

Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings

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