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

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

The Truth About Sebastian Venable's Death Emerged - Catherine Confessed That Her Homosexual Cousin (Using Her As Sexy Bait) Had Been Cannibalistically Assaulted and Murdered in Spain; She Escaped Having a Damaging Lobotomy (Encouraged by Her Aunt) To Cure Her Symptoms of Mental Illness

This lurid, melodramatic film adaptation of the 1957 Tennessee Williams play was set at the Venable home in the French Quarter of New Orleans in the late 1930s. Pretty Catherine Holly (Elizabeth Taylor) was the institutionalized niece of rich widow Violet Venable (Katharine Hepburn), and was threatened with a 'brain-cutting' lobotomy, to be performed by psychiatric Dr. Cukrowicz (Montgomery Clift). .

In the film's climactic monologue and surreal murder scene (with impressionistic flashbacks), the tormented woman described the horrifying incident (a chase ending with a cannibalistic homicidal attack by Spanish youths) from the past summer that had happened to her homosexual cousin Sebastian Venable. (The character of Sebastian was never speaking and seen fully in the film, although wearing a full-white suit when attacked.)

She told how he had used her (and earlier Violet's) youthful beauty as a ploy or decoy. She described her seductive technique to lure and attract Italian beach boys closer to him for his own pleasure:

I was procuring for him...he used us as bait...we procured for him... He-he was lying naked on the broken stones...and this you won't believe! Nobody, nobody, nobody could believe it! It looked as if - as if they had devoured him!...As if they'd torn or cut parts of him away with their hands, or with knives, or those jagged tin cans they made music with. As if they'd torn bits of him away in strips!

By the film's end, Catherine (referring to herself in the third person) told Dr. Cukrowicz that she had returned to a less painful present: "She's here, Doctor. Miss Catherine's here." At the same time, Violet Venable became delusional (believing the doctor was her dead son) and suffered a nervous breakdown (she was unable to accept the truth about her son).

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Gigolo Screenwriter Joe Gillis Was Shot and Killed by Jealous Ex-Silent Film Star Norma Desmond When He Told Her He Was Leaving; She Was Lured Out of Her Home By Authorities Who Pretended She Was in a Film

This classic, dark film noir about Tinseltown opened with a shocking twist beginning -- out-of-work screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) narrated (in voice-over) and told the film's story (in flashback) as his corpse floated in a swimming pool.

He had been killed by former silent-screen star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) when she became jealous of his associations with young screenwriter Betty Schaefer (Nancy Olson) and when he threatened to leave her.

The film ended with his corpse being retrieved from the pool, and news cameras were rolling in the estate as Norma Desmond, thinking she was performing in Salome, regally descended her staircase and delusionally announced: "All right, Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up."

Superman II (1980)

Superman Tricked the Villains - The Kryptonite Chamber Was Turned Inside Out, Causing Them to Lose Their Superpowers; All Three Villains Fell to Their Deaths

In director Richard Lester's sequel to the original superhero film, Superman (Christopher Reeve) faced three superpowerful, ruthless Kryptonite criminals from his home planet:

  • leader General Zod (Terence Stamp)
  • butch-punk henchwoman Ursa (Sarah Douglas)
  • and giant-sized Non (Jack O'Halloran)

The trio were freakishly freed from their imprisoning Phantom Zone, in the film's opening twist. (When Superman hurled a hydrogen bomb planted by terrorists in Paris' Eiffel Tower into outer space, it exploded and the shock waves released them.)

By the film's finale, the Man of Steel was up against the trio in his own Arctic Fortress of Solitude, where lover/girlfriend Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) was held as their hostage/bargaining chip. Criminal mastermind Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) activated the Kryptonite molecular chamber into which Superman was forced to enter.

[Earlier in the film, Superman had voluntarily decided to enter the chamber and lose his powers to become mortal (in an irreversible process) so that he could be with Lois.] However, this time, the lights in the entire interior of the Fortress turned red (Kryptonian sunlight), not inside the chamber. [Superman had cleverly reconfigured the machine before they arrived to reverse its effects, knowing that Luthor would betray him, so that anything outside the chamber would lose its powers when the machine was activated.]

Superman appeared to writhe in agony in the chamber, and then emerged humiliated, to disgrace himself and kneel before Zod to "swear eternal loyalty." He took Zod's hand - and then crushed the bones in it - and hurled the helpless Zod through the air into a far wall to his doom. The other two also fell to their deaths in the crevasse depths of the Fortress.

Superman Becoming Mortal

Superman Tricking Villains

Superman II (1980)

Superman's Super-Kiss With Lois Erased Her Memory of The Couple as Lovers, and Her Knowledge That He Was a Super-Hero

A second twist occurred toward the very end of the film.

Fellow Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) had discovered Clark Kent's alter-ego as Superman (Christopher Reeve), and he had decided that she would be his perfect mate and lover. To become mortal, he underwent the irreversible process of entering a crystal molecular chamber where the rays of the red sun of Krypton had been stored and harnessed. After exposing himself to those rays -- all of his great powers on Earth disappeared forever. The trade-off was that he was sleeping with Lois.

Afterwards, Superman was dismayed by his physical limitations in the face of Earth's conquest by three Kryptonite criminals. Clark's opportune discovery of a glowing green crystal in his Fortress of Solitude miraculously restored his superpowers - this was a major plot twist that remained unexplained in the film.

However, he and Lois had to face the difficult decision about what to do regarding their relationship. In her office, Clark listened as Lois admitted her selfishness in love when it came to him: "And I'm jealous of the whole world." She described the pain she felt about keeping his identity a secret. Lois told him he would be a "tough act to follow" if she had to find someone else.

When he kissed her to reassure her of his love, it somehow erased her memory of her past few days with him as Superman. It was another ingenious, unexplained plot twist. This allowed her to function without that painful knowledge, and to keep his identity secret and safe so that he could continue to dutifully protect Earth.

Suspicion (1941)

Johnnie Was Not Trying to Kill His Suspicious Wife Lina; He Was Troubled and Suicidal Because of Mounting Debts

In this Hitchcock suspense thriller, prim and mousy wallflower Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) had always been suspicious of her charming, wolfish and handsome husband Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant), especially after the mysterious sudden death of Beaky Thwaite (Nigel Bruce) and the fact that Johnnie had made inquiries about borrowing against her own life insurance policy.

When he brought Lina a glass of milk up a dark staircase in the film's most famous scene, she thought it was laced with a lethal dose of poison. Johnnie created financial difficulties for himself in an embezzlement scheme, and she feared, with mounting tension as the film progressed, that he had plans to do away with her to collect an insurance payoff.

A wild, high-speed ride along a coastal cliffside with Johnnie driving made her fear that he was going to push her out of the vehicle when the car door swung open.

In the end (one of many alternative conclusions that were considered for the film by the studio), it was revealed that Johnnie was not a homicidal killer, but that he had contemplated suicide by poisoning himself because of his mounting debts that he was unable to pay. Lina asked:

Why were you asking Isobel those questions about the poison? What were you planning to do with it? (She then answered her own question) Johnnie, you were going to kill yourself. My darling, my darling.

He admitted his financial difficulties to her and his ill-fated attempts to straighten things out, and ultimately his decision to face prison: ("But I saw that was a cheap way out. I'm going to see it through, prison term and everything...I can't pay it back....I tried to borrow on your insurance, but it didn't work"). Lina apologized:

Johnnie, if I'd only known. This is as much my fault as yours. I was only thinking of myself, not what you were going through. If I'd been really close to you, you could've confided in me, but you were afraid to. You were ashamed to come to me. Oh, if I'd only understood.

She promised: "But it will be different now. We'll make it different" and successfully pleaded with him to return home with her to work things out: "Let's turn back. Johnnie, let's go home and see it all through together...It will work, I know it will, Johnnie, please!" In the scene's final moment, he made a U-turn with the car and placed his arm around her.

Swimming Pool (2003)

The Publisher's Sexy French Daughter Julie at the French Villa Was Only In the Vivid Imagination of British Mystery Writer Sarah Morton; Her Book Was the Story of the Film

The events of this psychological thriller were revealed to be the inventive figment of repressed and uptight British mystery author Sarah Morton's (Charlotte Rampling) literary imagination while writing a novel called "Swimming pool."

The entire movie WAS the story that she was in the midst of writing as she experienced writer's block. Her artistic juices were rejuvenated by the sexy (imagined and fictional?) character of promiscuous Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) - her London publisher John Bosload's (Charles Dance) French-born, fearless, hedonistic daughter at a southern France villa.

The events around the pool were blended with her wildly experimental imaginings during the process of creating a story - possibly reflecting writer's revenge against her disinterested publisher.

Twisted inspirations included an impulsive poolside murder of the local waiter by Julie bashing him in the head with a large boulder (after having sex with him) and then by having Sarah and Julie bury his body in the yard.

The clinching surprise was revealed at film's end when Sarah was introduced in her publisher's office to the 'real' daughter Julia (Lauren Farrow) - a younger, shorter, chubbier-faced, braces-wearing teenager.

The pairing of the two girls in the final shots of the film confirmed that the sexy Julie was an imagined character in Sarah's mind.

Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings

(alphabetical by film title)
Intro | A1 | A2 | B1 | B2 | B3 | B4 | B5 | C1 | C2 | C3 | D1 | D2 | D3 | E1 | E2 | F1 | F2 | G | H1 | H2 | H3 | I | J-K | L1 | L2
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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