Film Spoilers and
|Film Title/Year and Plot Twist-Spoiler-Surprise Ending Description|
In this original trilogy of films, most of the surprises or plot twists occurred in the second and third installments; however, in the first film Star Wars (1977), Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi (Alec Guinness) provided some important background information. He revealed to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) that he had fought in the Clone Wars: "I was once a Jedi Knight. The same as your father." (Luke had thought his father was simply a navigator on a spice freighter, but he was according to Ben - "the best starpilot in the galaxy, and a cunning warrior.") Ben gave Luke his father's elegant weapon -- a light-saber ("the weapon of a Jedi Knight"). Jedi Knights were guardians of peace and justice in the old Republic before the dark times, before the Empire.
Luke also learned how his father died:
Luke was under the impression that Darth Vader (David Prowse/voice of James Earl Jones) had murdered his father. Then in the film's conclusion, Ben and Darth Vader fought a confrontational duel to the death with laser light-sabers aboard the Death Star. Obi-Wan cautioned: "You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine..." From a distance, Luke could see their combat and called out: "Ben?" When Kenobi looked and saw Luke, he smiled, lowered his guard, as Vader cut him in half. His robe fell to the floor, but he had vanished inside. Afterwards, Luke was able to heroically target the weak point within the Death Star and destroy it.
Darth Vader Was Luke's Father
In The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Luke learned the ways of the Force and a Jedi knight from an odd, aged and wizened, green dwarfish creature about two feet tall, dressed in rags, with large bright eyes and pointy ears named Yoda (voice of Frank Oz). But Luke left prematurely before training was completed, and was confronted by Vader in a carbon-freezing chamber, where he was told: "The Force is with you, young Skywalker. But you are not a Jedi yet." As they fought together, Vader struck Luke in the wrist and his hand was amputated. Vader entreated with an outstretched arm: "There is no escape. Don't make me destroy you. Luke, you do not yet realize your importance....Join me, and I will complete your training." Luke refused, and then was told a startling revelation: "Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father." Luke glared back: "He told me you killed him."
Vader announced: "No, I am your father."
Luke was horrified and gasped: "No, no. That's not true. That's impossible!" Vader promised: "You can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny. Join me and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son. Come with me. It is the only way." With no other alternative, Luke stepped off the platform and fell into the chasm. Later after being rescued, Luke cried out for Ben, asking: "Why didn't you tell me?" Vader added: "Luke, it is your destiny."
Princess Leia Was Luke's Twin Sister
Then, in the climactic third film of the trilogy, The Return of the Jedi (1983), as his Jedi master Yoda died, Luke was told: "There is another...Sky - walker." Luke asked why Ben hadn't told him the truth about Vader ("You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father"). Ben explained: "Your father was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true from a certain point of view."
Ben also explained about the other Skywalker: "The other he spoke of is your twin sister...To protect you both from the Emperor, you were hidden from your father when you were born. The Emperor knew, as I did, if Anakin were to have any offspring, they would be a threat to him. That is the reason why your sister remains safely anonymous." Luke guessed, insightfully that Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) was his twin sister: "Leia is my sister!"
Later, he spoke to Leia and told her what he knew: "The Force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. And my sister has it. Yes. It's you, Leia." She admitted that she wasn't very surprised knowing they were related: "Somehow, I've always known." Then, in this third film's conclusion, the Dark Lord Darth Vader (Luke's father, Anakin Skywalker, who had been converted to the Dark Side), struggled in a light-saber duel against his son, Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. Vader saved his son from dying at the hands of the evil Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) by hurling the evil leader down a long shaft in the Death Star battle station, where his body exploded in a burst of energy.
Mortally-wounded and breathing laboriously, Vader then asked Luke to remove his mask-respirator, but Luke protested: "But you'll die!," to which Vader responded: "Nothing can stop that now. Just for once, let me look on you with my own eyes." When he removed his father's mask, Luke saw the face of a sad elderly, bald man with a scarred, white face who ordered Luke to flee the second Death Star with his last dying breaths: "Now, go, my son. Leave me." Luke disagreed, and vowed to save his father: "I've got to save you." Vader replied: "You already have, Luke...You were right about me. Tell your sister you were right." And then Vader -- with the face of Anakin Skywalker (Sebastian Shaw) died.
Luke escaped from the exploding Death Star in a shuttle with his father's corpse, and that evening on the forest moon of Endor (as the rebels celebrated the destruction of the Death Star and the demise of the Emperor), Luke burned the armored body in a funeral pyre. Later, Luke saw the happy ghost-spirits of Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi, Jedi master Yoda and then Anakin smiling upon him - and he waved them goodbye.
Star Wars (1977)
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Return of the Jedi (1983)
The Entire Story Was Crash Victim Henry's Delusionary Hallucinations Before He Died; The Characters at the Accident Scene (including Dr. Foster and Nurse Lila) Were Woven into Henry's Life Recollections
The storyline of director Marc Forster's overly-stylish, impressionistic gloomy drama could easily be explained as 5% real (the last five minutes) and 95% dream. The film's two taglines blatantly gave away the plot twist: "Between the worlds of the living and the dead there is a place you're not supposed to stay" and "You Can't Stay Between the Living and the Dead."
The film briefly opened and closed with a horrifying roll-over night-time car crash on the Brooklyn Bridge - the driver-victim was gifted, suicidal Columbia fine arts junior Henry Letham (Ryan Gosling) (an anagram for Hamlet), who appeared to sit next to the burning car and then walk away after contemplating the crash. The film's plot twist was that Henry's disoriented, hallucinatory thoughts for the remainder of the film were during his dying moments.
After the crash, Henry's face was morphed into the face of the film's main character, Manhattan psychiatrist Dr. Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor), who awoke from a bad dream. [Sam's identity began to merge with Henry's identity and in a few instances there were abrupt scene transitions from Henry to Sam. Sam's life became an extension of Henry's delusions as he sought redemption through his doctor.] It was learned in the following scene that Dr. Foster was treating Henry, inheriting the patient from another depressed shrink named Dr. Beth Levy (Janeane Garofalo). Henry was threatening to kill himself three days later - at midnight on Saturday on his 21st birthday.
As Henry was dying while lying on his back on the bridge, and his subconscious took over, he exhibited regretfulness about his life as he reflected back:
By film's end, Dr. Foster had become more harried and disheveled and was hearing voices, claiming: "I'm running out of time." There were additional clues that Henry was dying in the film's conclusion: from Henry's viewpoint as Sam knelt next to him, his pants appeared above his sockless ankles, and that was carried over into the story.
Sam told Henry as he died: "Stay with me, okay?" and "If this is a dream, the whole world's inside it." Although the film showed Henry pulling the trigger on a gun in his mouth, he slowly expired from the car crash (with multiple victims, including his parents and girlfriend Athena) as he lay bloody on the pavement and was being treated by Sam and Lila before the paramedics arrived. At the accident scene, Henry thought the lights above him on the bridge were hail. All of the other bystanders and witnesses were familiar characters (such as the bookstore owner) that had appeared earlier in the film, including Lila who was a nurse (she had never met Dr. Foster before - Sam's and Lila's relationship was entirely made-up in Henry's mind).
When Henry said, "Forgive me," Dr. Foster claimed he was driving right behind Henry when his front tire blew, and the accident wasn't his fault. A young boy asked: "Mommy, is that man gonna die?" As Henry died, he proposed to Lila, believing she was his girlfriend Athena. After Henry died, Lila and Sam went for coffee together, after he told her: "I'm never gonna sleep tonight."
The Stepford Wives (1975)
The Wives of Stepford, Connecticut Were Being Replaced by Android Robots
This satirical, cautionary feminist sci-fi thriller opened with new Stepford, Connecticut suburban wives Joanna Eberhart and Bobbie Markowe (Katharine Ross and Paula Prentiss) noting suspiciously that their seemingly-perfect neighbor housewives only cleaned house and bowed to their husband's needs. The housewives all appeared to be perfect homemaker robots (who wore flowery dresses and cooked gourmet meals) in order to please their husbands.
The first shock came when Joanna suspected that her friend Bobbie had been transformed into a 'perfect' housewife when Bobbie began to act robotically in the kitchen while serving coffee. To test her humanity, Joanna stabbed her in her lower abdominal/genital area ("Do you bleed?") - causing her android friend to go berserk due to severed wiring as she twirled and repeated monotonously: "I was just going to give you coffee? How could you do a thing like that? I thought we were friends!"
In another startling scene, Joanna came face to face with her semi-complete, sunken dark-eyed robotic double.
The film ended with all of the flowery-dress-wearing, android wives pushing their shopping carts in the supermarket, including roboticized Joanna.
The Sting (1973)
The Killings of Hooker and Gondorff Were Faked; The Federal Agents Were Part of the Scam "Sting" Successfully Pulled on Lonnegan and Snyder
In this old-fashioned comic caper film set in the mid-30s, Robert Redford (as Johnny Hooker) and Paul Newman (as Henry Gondorff) teamed up again (after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)) as con men intent on vengefully swindling big-time gangster boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) out of his fortune of half a million dollars with an elaborate "sting."
After setting up a bogus gambling parlor in Chicago and boastfully showing off a slick horse-race betting system called "past-posting" (placing bets after the results were known but not to the betting parlor), Lonnegan was convinced to make one last bet on a horse. When he was about to lose his wager, the Feds arrived.
Con-artist Gondorff - believing that he had been betrayed by Hooker - shot him, causing FBI agent Polk (Dana Elcar) to shoot Gondorff. Lonnegan was hustled out of the betting parlor by corrupt Lieut. William Snyder (Charles Durning) to protect him from getting involved - leaving his suitcase of cash behind.
In the brilliant twist ending, it was revealed that all was a complex scam executed by a team of con artists, pick-pockets, and grifters, with Hooker and Gondorff masquerading as rivals. The two killings were faked, and even the FBI agents were phony! Hooker declined his share of the take: "Nah, I'd only blow it."
Stir of Echoes (1999)
Tom's Post-Hypnotic Visions Revealed the Attempted Rape-Death of 17 Year-Old Neighbor Girl Samantha By Two Teenaged Boys; The Boys and Their Fathers Covered Up the 'Accidental' Murder to Prevent Their Sons' Lives From Being Ruined, By Burying the Girl's Body Behind a Basement Wall
Writer/director David Koepp's supernatural ghost-horror film, loosely based upon Richard Matheson's novel of the same name, had a semi-predictable conclusion. Its tagline on posters declared: "Some doors weren't meant to be opened." Similar in twist and plot to The Sixth Sense (1999) which was released only a few weeks earlier, the film's impact was defused and thus less successful. There were also hints of Kubrick's The Shining (1980).
It told about an "ordinary" working-class Chicagoan and his family:
During a discussion with his psychic, "practically-licensed hypnotherapist" sister-in-law Lisa (Illeana Douglas) at a nearby neighborhood party, there was talk of hypnosis. Lisa said to Tom that there were "doorways you haven't even opened." Skeptical about the superstitious practice, Tom dared her to hypnotize him ("What's the worst that can happen?") and she reluctantly accepted and performed the parlor trick (subjectively experienced). (Later, she told him: "I've always said I think you need to be a little more open-minded, right?" She then tried to reassure him: "Relax, okay? I opened a door, that's all.")
In a spell-like state of post-hypnotic suggestion, he experienced brief, foreshadowing glimpses of the assault and suffocation of a young girl. When he came out of the trance, Lisa claimed he was one of the "lucky 8 percent" of the entire population that was "highly hypnotizable." He left the party feeling "kinda strange."
Afterwards, Tom visualized delusional horrors from another world ("I'm seeing things"), the most significant being sudden disturbing visions of a ghost, signaled first by a bloody tooth rolling across a floor, a hand clawing wood and a finger losing a nail, the loss of his own front tooth, and then by a strange young girl sitting on his sofa next to him. He had red-tinged mental buzzings and other momentary sights and glimpses, as well as horrifying nightmares (one of which came true - the startling scene of neighbor teen Adam shooting himself).
As a "receiver," Tom found himself haunted by 17 year-old mentally-slow neighbor girl Samantha Kozac (Jennifer Morrison) - a possible runaway, kidnapping or murder victim from six months earlier. She was the older sister of the Witzky family's upset babysitter, Debbie Kozac (Liza Weil).
As Tom investigated Samantha's mysterious disappearance, he became slightly crazed with unusual sleeping patterns, and was obsessed with digging holes into his entire backyard ("I'm supposed to dig"). He also jackhammered his basement's concrete floor, and created a large hole in his dining room's beautiful hardwood floor. While swinging a pick-axe in the basement, Tom accidentally uncovered Samantha's decomposed and decayed, plastic-wrapped remains behind a brick wall.
He envisioned her death by two teens:
Samantha was lured to Tom's house (just before he and his family had moved in as tenants). When Kurt attempted to kiss her and force himself on her, she resisted. She was thrown to the floor and lost her front tooth; then while being raped by Kurt, she clawed her fingers on the floor and lost her fingernail. To silence her screaming, the two covered her head with plastic sheeting and she suffocated.
Afterwards, her body was hidden behind the basement wall. The two boys and their complicit fathers covered up what they called an 'accidental murder' to prevent the lives of their sons from being ruined.
During a final climactic confrontation in Tom's living room when he was about to be silenced forever by Harry and Kurt - because of their "serious problem," Frank suddenly emerged from the basement and shot both Kurt and Harry (in order to save Tom (and also Maggie who had returned home) from "cold-blooded murder."
After justice was served, Samantha's ghost walked happily away from the scene, and she was given a decent funeral and burial. (Tombstone, Samantha Kozak, January 18, 1982 - March 17, 1999, "At Rest").
The Witzky family moved away from the neighborhood with a U-Haul.
The film concluded, as they drove away, with Jake hearing the whispering voices, moans, and cries of dozens of other ghosts calling for help. He covered his ears.
Frank and Adam
The Straight Story (1999)
The Two Aging Brothers Were Reconciled
The film ended with a very low-key reunion scene between two brothers after Alvin's long 6-week ride across Iowa and into neighboring Wisconsin on his lawn mower/tractor:
They met on Lyle's front porch, with only one exchange of dialogue: "(Did) you ride that thing all the way out here to see me?" with Alvin's short response: "I did, Lyle." The camera then panned up into a star-studded nighttime sky, in the conclusion of director David Lynch's atypical drama.
Strange Days (1995)
The Psycho Killer Was Max; Jeriko Had Been Killed by Two Rogue LAPD Cops
The tagline for director Kathryn Bigelow's dystopian, sci-fi thriller was: "New Years Eve 1999. Anything is possible. Nothing is forbidden." Its time frame was during riotous, non-stop street celebrations in anarchic, cyberpunk Los Angeles in the last 48 hours of the 20th century ("the Two-K - the big 2000"). Tensions were building between the LAPD and Angelenos, as sleazy street hustler, scam artist and ex-vice squad cop Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes), peddler of illegal "clips" (to experience the real sensations of others with strong doses of violence and sex, what he called "the forbidden fruit") was in a fast-paced race against time.
Lenny was a black marketer of recorded (or "wired") software clips coming directly from a head device called a 'squid' (short for Superconducting Quantum Interference Device): "The technology was developed for the Feds to replace the body wire, and now it's gone black market." He claimed he didn't traffic in "snuff" clips called 'blackjack' - but bragged:
Lenny promised one of his clients: "I can get you what you want. I can, I can get you anything...I'm your priest. I'm-I'm your shrink. I am your main connection to the switchboard of souls. I'm the Magic Man. I'm the Santa Claus of the unconscious." Lenny promoted his sleazy virtual reality trade: "There's money to be made, dreams to sell."
Things turned ugly when Lenny's prostitute-friend named Iris (Brigitte Bako), who justifiably feared for her life, was tasered, handcuffed, blindfolded, raped and strangled in the Sunset Regent Hotel (where she was hiding out), and her death was recorded by an unknown psycho killer in a taunting "blackjack" snuff clip delivered to Lenny in a plain envelope labeled NERO. During her murder, the sick killer had jacked his victim into his own output to experience her own torture and demise. Before her death, Iris had slipped Lenny a "clip" (placed with a note: "Help Me" into his repossessed car, so delivery was delayed) - it was her recording and first-person witnessing of a brutal assassination and conspiracy – the covered-up murder of 27 year-old outspoken militant black rapper Jeriko One (Glen Plummer) who was shot execution-style by two corrupt, rogue LA cops Steckler and Engelman (Vincent D'Onofrio and William Fichtner) during a random traffic stop.
The public revelation of the killing of Jeriko (not due to gangbanger-related violence as originally blamed) would ignite a catastrophic race riot, if the truth came out that there was a "hard-line" death-squad conspiracy (or even "two loose-cannon cops" who had killed him in cold blood). Everything violently converged an hour before the dawn of the New Millennium, at the downtown Bonaventura Hotel as Lenny planned to trade the "lightning bolt from God" tape in exchange for Faith. One final tape was left for Lenny to view - at first horrified, he thought he was witnessing another rape/strangulation tape of Faith's murder, but it concluded as an erotic-asphyxiation sex scene between Faith and her secret lover Max, who then fried the brain of Gant when the jealous boyfriend interrupted them and caught them making love.
Max was protecting his new lover Faith, knowing that she had been targeted by Gant for death. Max confronted Lenny and used his friend's gun to shoot Gant in the head - thus setting up Lenny (a "chump to take the fall") for both Gant's and Iris' murder. Max quipped: "The world's gonna end in ten minutes, anyway," before the two fought to the death in the hotel room and onto its balcony, high above the revelers.
Max precariously hung onto Lenny's tie until Lenny cut off his tie with the knife stuck in his back - sending Max hurtling to his death on the street below. Lenny's long-time friend, single-mother and muscled, street-savvy limousine chauffeur-security bodyguard Lornette "Macey" Mason (Angela Bassett), trained in defensive combat, succeeded in battling against the two LAPD cops, with the help of a riotous crowd taking her side and rescuing her, before the two renegade cops who killed Jeriko were arrested by Deputy Police Commissioner Palmer Strickland (Josef Sommer) (who held the tape evidence) - and then both cops ended up dead.
Lenny came together with Mace when he pulled her from her car and kissed her amidst the celebrations of the New Year of 2000 (she had just told him: "Hey, Lenny, we made it"), as the camera pulled back and they became lost in the crowd and confetti.
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)
Martha Had Killed Her Aunt, But Didn't Take the Blame; Years Later, a Deadly Love Triangle Led to the Double-Suicide of Martha and Husband Walter
This sordid, noirish, B/W melodrama told about three childhood friends who were brought together 18 years later for a climactic denouement regarding a murderous and guilty secret from the past, in the Pennsylvania town of Iverstown.
The film opened in 1928 with young heiress Martha Ivers (Janis Wilson as a girl) bludgeoning (with a cane) her domineering, mean-spirited, tyrannical, wealthy Aunt Ivers (Judith Anderson) to death (on a flight of stairs where she tumbled to her death) during a raging thunderstorm - revenge for caning to death Martha's beloved cat named Bundles. At the time, Martha had repeatedly been planning to run away with her young, street-smart boyfriend Sam Masterson (Darryl Hickman as a boy).
The murder was thought to have been witnessed by both Sam, who fled town (and joined a circus) and by young Walter O'Neil (Mickey Kuhn as boy) who was at Martha's side. Walter was convinced by Martha to lie about the killing to save herself. In exchange for their help, Walter's scheming father Mr. O'Neil (Roman Bohnen), Martha's greedy tutor, blackmailed Martha into marrying Water (so that he could acquire her inherited wealth and influence), while an innocent man was accused, condemned and executed for the murder of Martha's aunt.
The love triangle clashed when they were brought together again years later in 1946:
Martha, who had never given up her love for Sam, decided to seduce him and then have him heartlessly kill her weak-willed (and unconscious) husband ("Now, Sam. Do it now. Set me free. Set both of us free...Oh, Sam, it can be so easy"), but Sam refused ("I never murdered"). When Sam walked out of the mansion, Martha threatened to shoot Sam as an intruder - in "self defense" - but she couldn't pull the trigger on him and shoot him in the back. As he left, he told them: "I feel sorry for you, both of you."
The shock double-suicide ending included Martha's death when she pulled the trigger on herself as her jealous and drunk husband Walter held a gun to her stomach during a deadly embrace - and then with her draped limply in his arms, Walter shot himself to death. Sam witnessed the two deaths through a window, as he stood outside the mansion, before driving off with Toni.
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