Greatest Film Plot Twists
Film Spoilers and
Surprise Endings


Written by Tim Dirks

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

Mission Impossible (1996)

Jim Phelps Was the Duplicitous Rogue Agent Who Faked His Own Death And Orchestrated Deaths of Others During the Opening Mission; Phelps Shot Partner Claire Dead, and Died with Krieger in Helicopter Explosion

In this Brian De Palma action thriller, covert American IMF (Impossible Missions Force) agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) was sent to Prague with other spy squad team-colleagues led by Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), and including:

  • Jack Harmon (Emilio Estevez), computer hacker
  • Hannah Williams (Ingeborga Dapkunaite), surveillance expert
  • Sarah Davies (Kristin Scott Thomas)
  • Claire (Emmanuelle Beart), Phelps wife

The team was instructed to stop traitorous American embassy attache Alexander Golitsyn (Marcel Iures) from stealing a NOC (Non-Official Cover) list of agents in Eastern Europe from a high-security computer room during a reception at the Embassy.

The plan went awry when unknown assassins emerged, and Phelps aborted the mission. Jack was killed in the elevator shaft, both Sarah and Golitsyn were knifed and murdered at a metal gate, Phelps was shot in the stomach and fell from a bridge into a river, and it appeared that both Hannah and Claire expired in a car explosion.

Soon after, sole-surviving team member Ethan met with CIA-based IMF director Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny) and was told the real objective of the mission -- Kittridge explained how the operation (referred to as Job 314) was basically a "molehunt," to learn the identity of an inside traitor who would benefit from the sale of the NOC list to an illegal Czech arms dealer known as "Max" (Vanessa Redgrave). "Max" would, in turn, sell the list to the highest bidder.

Note: Kittridge also revealed that Golitsyn was actually a CIA agent, and that the list Golitsyn stole was a decoy, with the actual list secure at Langley, Virginia CIA's headquarters.

Then came one of many of the film's complex twists -- Ethan was accused of being the rogue double agent - the real target of the mission. Also, Claire had survived the car bombing, although presumed dead by the CIA.

To clear his name, Ethan decided to steal the list himself and use it as bait for the real traitor. He assembled a team of "disavowed" agents, including:

  • Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), computer hacker expert
  • Franz Krieger (Jean Reno), French pilot
  • Claire

The group of agents successfully infiltrated the CIA in Virginia, and acquired the real NOC list. It was offered to "Max" for $10 million, in exchange for the delivery of Job -- the code name for the mole.

Back in London, another surprise revelation occurred when Phelps appeared - actually alive. Although Ethan played along when Phelps claimed that Kittridge was the mole ("I saw who shot me. I saw the mole. It was Kittridge"), he suspected that Phelps was the mole (Max's 'Job') who had caused computer hacker Jack's 'accidental' death during the mission.

In fact, Phelps had faked his own shooting on the bridge (he used a gun with blanks and then a soaked sponge to rub a blood-like substance on his hands). He also detonated the car bomb, while Franz Krieger (Phelp's partner) knifed Golitsyn and Sarah.

Ethan was certain Kittridge would come after him, to acquire the NOC list. This was confirmed when the film concluded on a high-speed train from London to Paris where all the major players came together. The NOC list on disk was traded to "Max" in exchange for $10 million and "Job." The funds were to be handed over in the train's baggage compartment, where Ethan impersonated "Phelps" (with a latex mask) and discovered that Claire was her own husband's conspiratorial partner.

Phelps was conclusively proven to be the rogue agent, when Ethan wore special video-transmitting glasses and transmitted an image of Phelps to Kittridge on his video wristwatch, showing that the traitorous, duplicitous Phelps was still alive. Ethan added: "I'm not the only one who's seen you alive." Kittridge viewed Phelps on the wristwatch and greeted him: "Good morning, Mr. Phelps."

Phelps shot Claire dead, and then in the exciting conclusion atop the train inside the chunnel, Phelps met his own fiery and explosive end when his getaway helicopter (piloted by partner Krieger, who had all along partnered with Phelps) was blown up with explosive chewing gum, and he died in the falling wreckage that crushed him into the train tracks. Ethan narrowly escaped death by riding the fireball back to the train.

In the conclusion, the NOC list was returned to Kittridge from "Max," the Justice Department apologized to Ethan, and Luther was reinstated as an IMF agent, although Hunt was reluctant to join him.

Ethan Hunt Impersonating Phelps with Latex Mask

Video Transmitting Glasses

Image of Phelps on Wristwatch

Explosive Train in Chunnel

Mission Impossible 3 (2006)

John Musgrave Was the Real Traitor, not Brassel, Who Was Collaborating with Elusive Arms Dealer Owen Davian to Sell a Weapon (Rabbit's Foot) To the US's Middle East Enemies, to Foment a War; Davian and Musgrave Were Killed in the Film's Conclusion By Hunt and Wife Julia, and the Rabbit's Foot Was Reclaimed

In this third installment in the long-running blockbuster film franchise, Impossible Missions Force (IMF) agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) was semi-retired, although called back into duty, to combat a new threat -- the film's malicious bad guy, elusive arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and a mysterious object.

The film began with a hostage situation, although then flashbacked to events that led up to it.

Davian was at the center of a conspiracy, to profit from a McGuffin object of everyone's interest. The illegal object was a valuable weapon, code-named the Rabbit's Foot (worth about $850 million), to be sold to the US' enemies in the Middle East:

In 18 hours, the Rabbit's Foot will be delivered to its Middle Eastern buyer, and we'll have credible intel to prove it.

Ethan and his team of IMF agents headed to Vatican City to capture Davian and interrogate him about the most powerful nuclear device. However, Davian escaped or was released (with help from IMF double agents) in an exciting bridge attack sequence.

Davian then kidnapped Hunt's new wife Julia "Jules" Meade (Michelle Monaghan), and held her hostage in Shanghai (where the Rabbit's Foot was held). At the same time, Ethan was seized by the IMF and interrogated - but he escaped, knowing that he had only 48 hours to recover the Rabbit's Foot and rescue his wife.

[Note: By this point, it became clear that IMF Operations Manager John Musgrave (Billy Crudup) was a traitor, who was collaborating with Davian. However, Musgrave had made it appear that IMF Executive Director Mr. Theodore Brassel (Laurence Fishburne) was the mole. Musgrave counted on personally profiting from the sale of the Rabbit's Foot to the Middle East. Once the US Security Council received the report of the delivery about six hours later, Musgrave predicted a "military strike within a week. And when the sand settles, our country will do what it does best. Clean up. Infrastructure. Democracy wins." Musgrave anticipated that the Middle East would attack, resulting in massive US retaliation in the region, and he would be rich and successful as a result.]

To acquire the Rabbit's Foot, Davian had blackmailed Hunt into stealing the object from a lab in a highly-fortified skyscraper in Shanghai, in order to trade it for his new wife's life. After Hunt delivered the valuable McGuffin to Davian (and his turncoat partner Musgrave who suddenly appeared), Hunt believed that his wife was shot in the head before his eyes (seen in part in the film's opening before the story's long flashback), although Musgrave pulled off Julia's latex facial mask to reveal the face of Davian's dead translator. In place of Julia was Davian's incompetent Head of Security from Vatican City who had failed to protect him there. Julia was still alive - to Ethan's utmost relief.

Musgrave then admitted that he was after Brassel's job (calling him an "affirmative action poster boy"). He also divulged that he had told Davian about Ethan's trained protege Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell) and had set her up to be killed in a Berlin warehouse (in an earlier scene in the film), while putting the blame on Brassel. Musgrave's biggest worry was the effectiveness of his set-up of Brassel ("Did she [Lindsey] buy that Brassel set her up? Did she buy that?"), and whether his name had been compromised at the IMF.

In the film's conclusion, Hunt fought hand-to-hand against Davian who died when he was punched backwards into the street and run over, head-on, by a truck. However, an explosive capsule detonated in Hunt's brain meant he had only four minutes to live. He rapidly instructed wife Julia on how to handle a gun before electrocuting himself, in order to deactivate the capsule in his brain.

Julia Killing Musgrave

Ethan Hunt - Revived by CPR

The Rabbit's Foot

Julia helped defend her unconscious husband by shooting and killing Musgrave, who dropped a small case carrying the Rabbit's Foot (encased in a glass container), and then Julia performed CPR on her husband to save his life.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise)

Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman)

Kidnapped Hostage Julia
(Michelle Monaghan) Hunt's wife

John Musgrave (Billy Crudup)

Ripping Off Fake Julia Mask

Real Hostage Julia

Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) - Death by Truck

The Mist (2007) (aka Stephen King's The Mist)

In a Cruel and Ironic Twist, Drayton's Premature Suicidal Mercy Killings Were In Vain

Writer/director Frank Darabont's adaptation of Stephen King's novella The Mist became a science-fiction horror-thriller film. It told about a strong thunderstorm and a subsequent massive power outage that affected the small town of Bridgton, Maine. Then, a mysterious, unnatural fog or mist full of otherworldly, monstrous inter-dimensional creatures, pterodactyl-like animals, tentacled snake-like worms, spider-like monsters, and giant flying insects enveloped and trapped a few dozen people in the local supermarket.

The controversial ending was one in which a group of five survivors fleeing in a car ran out of gas in the midst of a monster-ridden mist on a winding forested road.

In the film's final few minutes - a sadistic, tacked-on, bleak, nihilistic and sacrificial ending (not in the Stephen King novella), widowed painter-artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane) realized that there were only four bullets left, so he opted to mercy kill occupants of the car (with bullet shots to the head), leaving himself the only survivor:

  • Billy Drayton (Nathan Gamble), his young son
  • Amanda Dunfrey (Laurie Holden), blonde, his newfound love interest
  • Dan Miller (Jeffrey DeMunn) and Irene (Frances Sternhagen), two elderly survivors

He then stepped out of the van and screamed in anguish for one of the unseen blood-thirsty creatures to kill him -- but then a military caravan of tanks and trucks pulled up and emerged from the mist, in a deus ex machina moment.

David Drayton (Thomas Jane) After the Mist Cleared

The soldiers torched the remaining creatures and helped any remaining survivors, causing David to collapse in dazed disbelief at the pointlessness of his inane sacrifice.

Trapped Inside a Supermarket

David Escaping With Members of His Family In a Van

Gunshot Blasts Inside Van

Mr. Brooks (2007)

Serial Killer Mr. Brooks (Urged by Marshall) Unexpectedly Framed and Killed Blackmailer Peeping Tom Mr. Baffert ("Mr. Smith"); Brooks Experienced a Nightmare of His Killing-Addicted Daughter Murdering Him

This psychological thriller from writers/directors Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon told about a well-respected Portland businessman and debonair philanthropist named Mr. Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner). His wife was Emma (Marg Helgenberger), and he had a college-aged daughter. He was founder of a Box Factory and the Chamber of Commerce's Man of the Year. He had regularly been attending AA-styled, 12-step meetings for two years, to deal with his addiction. The film opened with the ominous text:

"The hunger has returned to Mr. Brooks' brain. It never really left."

Although he was an upright citizen, he also had an evil, bloodthirsty and murderous alter ego (id) - known as Marshall (William Hurt) who constantly tailed him, and made whispered urgings in his ear to commit serial murders - usually targeting couples mid-sex.

Brooks engaged in an internal conversation with Marshall as the film began, using Alcoholics Anonymous-style confessions to struggle against his insistent inner demon. Knowing he was addicted to killing but hadn't committed a crime for over two years, Brooks begged Marshall not to entice him to begin again: "Don't let me do this, please. I don't want to start again."

But he succumbed late one night, and methodically and meticulously murdered a young couple having sex in their bedroom (they were exhibitionists, often leaving their curtain open). He shot each of the two individuals in the middle of their foreheads, and then replayed the killings in his mind as he twirled around. In every case, Mr. Brooks followed a particular procedure, including fastidious and careful attention to detail (locking the doors before leaving), but this time, he realized that he had made one mistake - the curtains were left open during the execution-style killings. He posed their bodies on the bed, fastidiously cleaned up (and took the vacuum cleaner bag with him), and left his trademark - the victims' bloody thumbprints on a lampshade, making him known as the "Thumbprint Killer." He also recited the Alcoholics Anonymous Serenity Prayer.

The re-opened homicide-serial killer case was investigated by astute police Detective Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore), who was having her own personal issues. She was in the midst of a contested separation-divorce from her husband Jesse Vialo (Jason Lewis). Other news was particularly disturbing for Atwood - serial killer Thornton Meeks (aka The Hangman) had recently escaped from prison and was seeking revenge for being locked up previously by Atwood.

Shortly later, Brooks was visited as his place of work by a mechanical engineer named Mr. Baffert (Dane Cook), but anonymously calling himself "Mister Smith." He was a peeping tom who had witnessed the couple's Portland murder from his adjacent apartment (Brooks remembered that the couple's room had their curtains open) and taken incriminating photos. Through blackmail, he demanded to accompany Brooks on his next killing to feel the "rush." "Mister Smith" had his own death and murder fetish, and wanted to become Mr. Brooks' protege.

Mister Smith/Mr. Baffert (Dane Cook)

Smith's Incriminating, Blackmail Photos of the Portland Murder Scene

In the meantime, Brooks' daughter Jane (Danielle Panabaker) returned home to announce that she had dropped out of college in the Bay Area (Palo Alto) only half-way through her freshman year. Although she claimed she was pregnant by a married man and was possibly planning an abortion, it was suspected that she was "hiding something bigger" - she had committed a hatchet murder of fellow student Phillip Ramsey in her dorm building shortly before returning home. Detectives from the Bay Area arrived to interview Jane.

Fearing that Jane had inherited his own killer traits and instincts ("I've been afraid of this since before she was born...she has what I have") and would be arrested, Brooks "cleaned up after her" by disguising himself as a different identity and committing a second hatchet murder in the Palo Alto area to throw off the authorities and clear Jane.

Brooks also had a "wonderfully twisted" idea about who would be "Smith's" hapless first victim during their joint murder - restauranteur Jesse Vialo - Detective Atwood's soon-to-be ex second husband with whom she was having a messy divorce. (The womanizing Vialo was demanding $5 million from Detective Atwood while having an affair with his own attractive lawyer Sheila (Reiko Aylesworth)). At Vialo's double-homicide murder scene where the making-out couple were murdered, "Smith" panicked and left his DNA by urinating on the floor - and Brooks knew that it would incriminate his inexperienced partner.

While driving away from the Vialo/Sheila murder scene, Brooks predicted that Mister Smith would hold a gun on him. As part of Brooks' own concocted story that he was terminally ill and wanted to disappear (to spare his family pain and to end his killing cycle forever), Brooks schemed to have "Smith" drive him to a cemetery. There, he would allow himself to be shot dead and buried in a open grave.

As expected, Brooks had planned for such an eventuality, and had prepared himself for a major double-cross. Brooks had previously tampered with "Smith's" murder weapon so that it wouldn't fire, admitting: "In case at the last minute, I changed my mind, I returned to your apartment and bent the firing pin on your gun." He also confessed that the damning photos - the contents of "Smith's" safe-deposit box had vanished. He then beat "Smith" to death with the graveyard shovel (one slashing blow severed his neck and he bled to death) and buried him, leaving no evidence. "Smith" was then the sole suspect in the Vialo murder (after DNA typing of his urine). Brooks also vacated "Smith's" apartment, and left a moving company receipt with an address. The new address was the location of the hideout of escapee Thomas Meeks, where a shootout with police ended with Meeks' double murder-suicide.

Meanwhile, Brooks continued to act like the perfect and upright citizen. However, Detective Atwood sensed that Baffert wasn't the murderer after Brooks impersonated him during a phone call, and realized the "Thumbprint Killer" was still at-large.

In a startling final scene with a shock (fake) ending, Brooks nightmarishly dreamt that his sweetly-manipulative daughter Jane mercilessly killed him as he kissed her while she was sleeping (she savagely stabbed him in the throat with a pair of scissors), a fear he had felt for a long time that Jane would become like him.

Imagined Stabbing Murder of Mr. Brooks by His Daughter Jane
Waking Up from Nightmare with Emma

He awoke in shock next to his loving wife Emma, and was reassured that everything was OK. He heard Marshall ask: "Why do you fight it so hard, Earl?" Then, he softly recited the Alcoholics Anonymous Serenity prayer to himself, begging mercy from God for his impure impulses.

Portland Businessman Mr. Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner)

Brooks' Evil Alter-Ego Marshall (William Hurt)

Mr. Brooks' Wife Emma (Marg Helgenberger)

Both Victims Shot in the Forehead During Sex

Crime Scene - Murdered Couple Posed in Bed

Bloody Thumbprints on Lampshade

Investigative Detective Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore)

Brooks' Daughter Jane (Danielle Panabaker)

Brooks with Jane

Atwood's Husband Jesse Vialo (Jason Lewis) and Lawyer Sheila (Reiko Aylesworth) About to be Murdered

Brooks' Graveyard Scene with "Mister Smith"

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, UK)

A Costumed King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, In the Present-Day, Were Arrested and Hauled Away For the Murder of a "Famous Historian" During Filming; It Was Possible That They Were Framed for the Killing By a Villainous Knight (Maybe the Master of the Black Knight?)

This surreal comedy from the British comedy troupe was among several feature-length films in the 1970s and 80s:

  • And Now for Something Completely Different (1971) - an anthology film of sketches from the TV series
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
  • Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982)
  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)

It was designed as an absurd spoof or parody of the King Arthur legend (and his Knights of the Round Table), the myth of Camelot, Arthur's quest to find the Holy Grail in the 10th century A.D.. It also skewered religion, medieval epics, and the Middle Ages (with its witch trials and the black plague).

The members of the Monty Python troupe of performers took multiple roles, for example:

  • Graham Chapman (King Arthur, the Voice of God)
  • Terry Gilliam (Arthur's trusty squire or serf-assistant Patsy, the Green Knight)
  • John Cleese (Sir Lancelot, the Black Knight)
  • Eric Idle (Sir Robin, the Dead Collector, etc.)
  • Terry Jones (Sir Bedevere the Wise)
  • Michael Palin (Sir Galahad, Leader of the Knights Who Say Ni)

Part-way through the film, after King Arthur's failure to take a French-controlled castle, the first clue to the plot twist was given. Very abruptly in a cutaway sequence, a famous present-day historian named Frank (John Young) (a film-making documentarian) was speaking (or narrating) toward the camera about Arthur's new strategy for questing after the Holy Grail:

- Feature for schools. Take eight.
- Action.
"Defeat at the castle seems to have utterly disheartened King Arthur. The ferocity of the French taunting took him completely by surprise. And Arthur became convinced that a new strategy was required if the quest for the Holy Grail were to be brought to a successful conclusion. Arthur, having consulted his closest knights decided that they should separate and search for the Grail individually. Now this is what they did."

An unknown knight (the master of the Black Knight?), the main villain in the film, approached on horseback, and the speaker was killed by a vicious sword slash to his throat. Afterwards, his wife (Rita Davies) (from off-camera) rushed to her dead husband's side, crying out: "Frank!" It is possible this knight (not with Arthur) was framing Arthur and his Knights with murder.

Death of 'Famous Historian' Frank

After Arthur and Bedevere became separated from Lancelot at the Bridge of Death, Lancelot was arrested and frisked by police.

In the film's final moments when King Arthur and the Knights had gathered a large battle army and were charging against the French castle, the plot twist was fully revealed. A police car, a paddy wagon, and officers of the law pulled into the scene in front of the army, and Frank's wife exited the car and shouted out: "Yes, they're the ones, I'm sure."

There was an ongoing investigation of King Arthur and his Knights for the murder of the "Famous Historian" and they were now being arrested by police. Were they escapees from an insane asylum? One of the police officers threatened the cameraman, and put his hand over the camera lens:

"All right, sonny, that's enough, just pack that in."

The Abrupt End of the Film

The cameraman swore: "Christ!" Then, the film reel broke in the projector and derailed from the gate, and the film abruptly ended.

King Arthur (Graham Chapman) with Patsy (Terry Gilliam)

Knighting Sir Bedevere (Terry Jones)

The Holy Grail

Early Clue: Present-Day Police and Investigator

Sir Lancelot Arrested and Frisked

Frank's Wife: "Yes, they're the ones, I'm sure."

Arrests of the Knights

Moon (2009, UK)

Both Astronauts: Sam Bell and Sam 2 (His Replacement) Were Clones, Created to Supervise LUNAR's Sarang Mining Base on the Far Side of the Moon. The Two Clones Were Actually the 5th and 6th Clones In Succession at the Base, Over an Approximately 12 Year Period. A Hidden Lower-Level Chamber Held Cryo-Sleep Drawers of Replacement 'Sam' Clones. At the End of Each Clone's 3-Year Contract, the Existing Cloned Sam Would Begin Deteriorating, and During a Promised 3-Day Return Journey Home to Earth Would Actually Be Incinerated in a Cyrogenic Hibernation Protection Pod. Each Clone Was Fed Uploaded, Edited Memories of the Life of the First Sam Bell

Director Duncan Jones' plot-twisting sci-fi film (with obvious filmic references to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Silent Running (1972), and others) was set on the far side of the Moon. Hints of its discovery of identity theme were found in its two taglines:

  • "250,000 miles from home, the hardest thing to yourself."
  • "The last place you'd ever expect to find yourself."

It began with a voice-over from lone, bearded, long-haired astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), a sole employee who was at the end of a three-year contract. He was supervising the strip-mining of lunar rock (with gigantic robotic threshing or harvesting robotic machines) to obtain Helium-3, a major component of fusion technology for green solar fuel energy, that was then periodically sent back to Earth:

"There was a time when energy was a dirty word. When turning on your lights was a hard choice. Cities in brownout. Food shortages. Cars burning fuel to run. But that was the past. Where are we now? How do we make the world so much better? Make deserts bloom? Right now, we're the largest producer of fusion energy in the world. The energy of the sun, trapped in rock, harvested by machine from the far side of the moon. Today, we deliver enough clean-burning helium-3 to supply the energy needs of nearly 70% of the planet. Who'd have thought? All the energy we ever needed, right above our heads. The power of the moon. The power of our future."

He was located on the far side of the Moon at a mining base named 'Sarang,' and working for a Japanese consortium titled LUNAR Industries, Ltd.

Communications with Earth were reduced to only video-taped recordings, and Sam was beginning to show signs of stress and homesickness ("I'm talking to myself on a regular basis. Time to go home, you know what I mean?"). He missed his wife Tess (Dominique McElligott) and his young 3-year old daughter Eve (she was an infant when he started his contract), and was only able to speak to them through delayed video messages. He was also experiencing hallucinations and dreams of making love to his wife.

His only contact and companion was a semi-mobile, multi-tasking AI robotic assist machine named GERTY 3000 (voice of Kevin Spacey) with a robotic arm. The questionably-helpful, smooth-voiced, programmed GERTY used yellow smiley face emoticons to communicate emotions and monitored Sam's every move.

The film took a turn when he suffered an accident, while he was out in a rover repairing a malfunctioning harvesting mining machine named Matthew. He distractedly crashed his rover into the thresher after seeing an hallucinatory mirage of a figure in the distance.

After a dissolve to black (the loss of consciousness), Sam awoke in the infirmary where GERTY told him that he had experienced an accident that he couldn't remember. Shortly later, the injured Sam struggled off the infirmary bed and overheard GERTY having a secret and clandestine conversation with Thompson (Benedict Wong) at HQ:

(The new Sam is in) good working order. But we only have two working harvesters now.

After convincing GERTY that he had to check the exterior shell of the base - after sabotaging it himself with a minor gas leak, Sam evaded GERTY and left the base. He took another rover to the earlier rover crash site, where he made a remarkable discovery. He found an unconscious version of himself (doppelganger) in the damaged rover. He brought his doppelganger back to the base, and then yelled at GERTY: "Who is he?...You tell me who that is!"

The disoriented, injured and tired Sam was placed in the infirmary, and told there had been an accident - while a 'cloned' Sam 2 (Robin Chalk), the doppelganger - a younger, mirror-image, healthier clone, looked on from a distance.

GERTY demanded that the younger Sam repeatedly take memory tests, claiming he had experienced slight brain damage in the accident, and he needed to strengthen his logic skills. Sam was ordered to remain at the base by LUNAR's Overmeyers (Matt Berry), who also promised that they would send a "rescue unit" to tend to the stalled harvester.

Sam listened to another message from Tess, telling him that Thompson was "promising the world - I think it was the right thing, but it's just such a long time." Sam angrily asked GERTY about the other 'Sam Bell': "What the hell's going on?...I'm losing my mind." GERTY asserted that LUNAR had not been told that he had been rescued alive from the rover. The two Sams each thought the other was an inferior clone ("We look like each other").

The company sent a message that it had secured a Rescue Unit (a three-man crew) named ELIZA, to arrive in approximately 14 hours. It had purportedly been sent to "fix" the stalled Harvester, but the clone suspected that Sam's promised contract to return to Earth in a few days wouldn't be honored. A frustrated Sam yelled at the clone:

"I'm the original Sam. I'm Sam f--king Bell."

The plot became even more complex when it was theorized that neither of the two Sams was an 'original'. The clone was suspicious that the company had a secret supply room of replacement clones inside the base:

"What about the other clones?...We might not be the first two to be woken up...There might be others up here right now...I bet there's some kind of secret room...You really think they give a s--t about us? They're laughing all the way to the bank."

The two engaged in a bloody struggle when the younger Sam insisted on tearing the base apart to find the hidden room.

Sam confessed to GERTY that he had anger issues, which had caused his wife Tess to leave him for 6 months, after which she gave him a "second chance." When Sam directly asked GERTY: "Am I really a clone?" - he was given a clear explanation, only hinted at in GERTY's message earlier. The fraudulent Japanese consortium (LUNAR Industries) that was running the operation was cloning replacement Sams inside the base station, to avoid paying for new astronauts.

GERTY described how it had awakened or activated the new clone after the rover crash and implanted the memories of Sam Bell into the clone. The injured Sam in the rover had been replaced with a new cloned version of himself (aka Sam 2).

Actually, the film's major spoiler was that both of them were clones of the first "Original Sam" who had long ago returned to Earth, as GERTY explained to the older Sam:

"When you first arrived at Sarang, there was a small crash. You woke up in the infirmary. You suffered minor brain damage and memory loss. I kept you under observation and ran some tests....Sam, there was no crash. You were being awakened. It is standard procedure for all new clones to be given tests to establish mental stability and general physical health. Genetic abnormalities and minor duplication errors in the DNA can have considerable impact...(Tess and Eve) they are memory implants, Sam. Uploaded, edited memories of the original Sam Bell. I am very sorry."

Sam 2 told the elder Sam that there was a conspiracy, and that they would be in a deadly, problematic predicament once the 'rescue team' arrived:

"I wasn't supposed to find you...They don't want us to be able to contact Earth. They lied to us."

The two Sams decided to join together to search the base, and drove two rovers outside the working perimeter of the base. There, they discovered that live long-range communications to Earth were deliberately being jammed by transmitting antennas. The elder Sam was also beginning to physically deteriorate after three years of service, and was throwing up blood and losing teeth. He played back archival video of the four previous Sams (all physically debilitated as their 3-year contracts expired), as they prepared to take a three-day return journey back to Earth in a cyrogenic protection pod (although they were actually euthanized and incinerated). In reality, cloned Sam 2 was actually Sam 6!

The two found a secret, out-of-bounds level of vaults below the hibernation chamber, where there were hundreds of ready-to-use cloned Sams stored in 'cryosleep' pull-out drawers: "Jesus Christ, there's so many of 'em."

Beyond the perimeter in a rover, the older Sam called Tess but instead reached daughter Eve (Kaya Scodelario), now 15 years old, who told him that Tess had "passed away some years ago." Stunned, he hung up before her father (the "Original Sam") was called to the video screen.

In only seven hours, the ELIZA 'rescue unit' would arrive, and the two Sams knew that if they were found together, they would be eliminated. They decided on a plan of action in a race against time, to seek a way to return to Earth in a Helium-3 transport, and expose LUNAR's conspiracy:

  • GERTY was told to wake up a new 7th clone (there had been 4 previous clones before the two of them), in time to greet ELIZA
  • Because Sam was sick and deteriorating, he was driven back to the crashed rover to expire there, to prevent suspicion, while the newer cloned Sam was sent back to Earth
  • GERTY's memory cache, in its memory banks, that had recorded everything in the previous day, was rebooted after younger cloned Sam 2 was launched to Earth
  • A harvester was programmed to crash into the jamming antenna to activate Live-Feed communications with Earth
  • The ELIZA arrived just as the younger cloned Sam was launched, and the new 7th clone awoke

Just before the closing credits as the launcher entered Earth's atmosphere, news reports (in voice-over) were broadcast about the controversy stirred up by Sam's (clone 6) testimony and evidence back on Earth, alerting the public to LUNAR's unethical practices:

Lunar Industries stocks have slipped a further 32% after accusations. Clone 6, the clone of Sam Bell, has been giving evidence at CAA's Board of Directors meeting in Seattle....

The voice of a radio talk show host was heard next, casting doubt on the clone's believability:

You know what? He's one of two things. He's a wacko or an illegal immigrant. Either way, they need to lock him up. Line two.

GERTY 3000

Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell)

Tess (Dominique McElligott)

Sam Awakening in Infirmary After Rover Accident

Sam's First View of His Injured Doppelganger

Sam Bringing His Doppelganger Back to the Base

Injured Elderly Sam in the Infirmary With Sam 2 Clone Looking On

The 2 Sams

Elder Sam Getting Weaker and Sicker

Discovery of Cyro-Chambers for Cloned Sams

Clone Sam 7 Waking Up

The Launching of Cloned Sam 6 to Earth

Mulholland Dr. (2001)

In a Nutshell, Diane and Betty Were the Same Person (Most of the Film Was Diane's Fantasy Dream of Being Successful in Hollywood as Betty); When Diane's Dream of Stardom Wasn't Fulfilled, and After She Was Jilted by Lesbian Friend 'Rita'/Camilla (Who Received the Lead Acting Role and Fell in Love with the Director), Diane Jealously Put Out A Hit Contract on Her, and Then Committed Suicide; Her Rotting Corpse Was On the Bed

The confusing aspect of this David Lynch neo-noir mystery drama was that it told about two female characters, with twisting and turning dual personas. In fact, the first three quarters of the film (roughly 115 minutes of the 147 minute film) was an idealistically-portrayed and romanticized fantasy dream by Diane Selwyn (Naomi Watts), a waitress who imagined herself as rising star Betty Elms (also Watts) who had come to Hollywood - before she became depressed and murderous (due to her failed attempts to become an actress), and then committed suicide.

Various (Illusionary and Real) Versions of the Same Person:
Diane Imagined Herself as Betty
Betty Elms (Naomi Watts)
Diane Selwyn (Naomi Watts)

Waitress Betty (Missy Crider) at Winkie's Restaurant

Waitress Diane (Missy Crider) at Winkie's Restaurant
Amnesiac 'Rita' (Laura Elena Harring)
Camilla Rhodes (Laura Elena Harring) Seen by Betty/Diane as 'Rita'

Actress Camilla Rhodes (Melissa George) (Photo)

Camilla Rhodes (Laura Elena Harring) - The Target of Diane's Hit-Man

Camilla Rhodes (During Audition)

Camilla Rhodes Kissing Camilla Rhodes

Diane imagined herself as Betty - a perky, smiling, excited, strongly-willed, blonde ingenue and wannabe newcomer to Los Angeles (the city of dreams) from Canada, who won a teen jitterbug dance contest in Canada (seen during the credits) that allowed her to travel to Hollywood: ("Oh! I can't believe it!...and now I'm in this dream-place"). This was a hint that much of the film would be a delusional dream or have dream elements. She was staying in the vacant apartment of her beloved red-haired Aunt Ruth (away on vacation, or possibly dead, or as Betty claimed: "She's working on a movie... that's being made in Canada"), who left her an inheritance, in a building managed by "Coco" (Ann Miller) - aka Mrs. Lenoix.

In the first part of the film - Diane's dream of stardom (in the person of Betty), she took charge of a relationship with glamorous amnesiac brunette, later dubbed 'Rita' (Laura Elena Harring). [Note: 'Rita's' name was plucked from a 'Gilda' movie poster that mentioned star Rita Hayworth.] They met soon after a car crash - an incident that was symbolic of the relationship between Diane/Betty and 'Rita.' A confused, bruised and frightened 'Rita' had just escaped an attempt on her life by her limo driver (due to a pair of race cars that rammed her limo on Mulholland Dr. as she went to a party at the address 6980 on the drive - a famous twisting and turning road in Hollywood). 'Rita' had afterwards fallen asleep in the apartment where Betty was staying.

Betty told 'Rita: "I couldn't afford a place like this in a million years. Unless of course, I'm discovered and become a movie star. Of course, I'd rather be known as a great actress than a movie star, but, you know, sometimes people end up being both so, that is, I guess you'd say, sort of why I came here." Both Betty and 'Rita' were presumably aspects of Diane's imagination.

[Note: Guilt-ridden after ordering the assassination of her ex-lover and competing actress Camilla who had ascended to stardom, Diane re-imagined Camilla as a dependent, lost amnesiac named 'Rita.' 'Rita' was Betty's unrealistic fantasy of who she wanted Camilla to be, from the start of the film.]

Betty was trying out for a part in a new Hollywood film, The Sylvia North Story. On the set where director Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) was listening to actress auditions, one of the ingenue actresses was blonde Camilla Rhodes (Melissa George), first seen singing Linda Scott's "I’ve Told Every Little Star." After Camilla's audition, Adam decisively declared: "This is the girl." Betty locked eyes with Adam, then hurriedly excused herself: "I have to be somewhere. I-I promised a friend. I'm sorry. I-I must go."

Then shortly later, the dream-like part of the film ended at the 115 minute mark when a blue box found in Betty's purse was opened with a mysterious blue key that a now-blonde Rita had found in her purse (after Betty disappeared) -- a clue that the two identities of blonde Betty/Diane and 'Rita' were very intertwined. The box fell to the floor.

'Rita's dark dress and shape were at first on a bed, then reverted to Diane's clothes and body. When Diane was commanded to wake up at her apartment from her dream by the Cowboy (Monty Montgomery) ("Hey, pretty girl. Time to wake up"), the remainder of the story in the film's last section was told in flashback - and was an accounting of what had really happened.

At First, Rita on the Bed, Then Diane
Cowboy: "Hey pretty girl.
Time to wake up."

It was revealed that Diane was really a dirty-blonde, failed actress and junkie (now working as a waitress named Betty) - looking jaded, haggard, and beaten down, and living by herself in a cheap rented apartment. Camilla’s mysterious blue key was nothing more than the key to Diane’s low-rent bungalow. When she saw the blue key sitting on her coffee table, she had a delusionary vision that Camilla (now played by Laura Elena Harring), her unrequited love interest, was visiting in her apartment.

[Note: The appearance of the key signified that the "done deal" was accomplished - the hitman had murdered the competing voluptuous actress Camilla. And now two detectives were looking for Diane.]

The guilt-ridden, hallucinating and depressed Diane fantasized that a half naked, bi-sexual 'Rita'/Camilla was awaiting her for sex on a couch (Camilla: "You drive me wild!"). After Diane touched Camilla and they kissed for a few moments, she was coldly rejected when told: "We shouldn’t do this anymore." Diane objected: "Don't ever say that." Diane's fantasy was shattered - she had imagined how her life could have been better - unrealistically, from the beginning of the film. She had seen herself as naive starlet Betty with both a successful Hollywood career and a love affair with Camilla - the film's major storyline.

In a slightly revised replay of an earlier scene, Diane jealously watched on set as casting director Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) had chosen dark-haired Camilla for an actress role (competing with Diane), and kissed her. Diane knew that she had been rejected and jilted, and her relationship with 'Rita'/Camilla had ended. Diane masturbated in a fevered state, crying and anguished.

At the end of the film, the story circled back to the beginning. Now dirty blonde Diane (not 'Rita') was in a limo on its way to 6980 Mulholland Dr. At the home, she was met by dark-haired Camilla who descended steps and suggested: "Shortcut." Camilla guided her up the steps as they held hands. They entered a dinner party at Adam's house with a pool, where Diane was introduced to Coco, Adam's mother.

It appeared that Adam had fallen in love with Camilla after separating from his cheating wife Lorraine (Lori Heuring). It was very possible Camilla slept with the director to get the acting role. Earlier in the film, Diane rationalized about why she had lost the coveted role - outside forces, the studio, mobster pressures, or a conspiracy (strong urgings from the Cowboy: "This is the girl") had plotted against her.

Two Different Trips on Mulholland Dr.
Beginning of Film
End of Film

During the dinner party, Diane explained that she was an aspiring actress who had come to California from Deep River, Ontario, Canada, after winning a jitterbug contest, and her aunt had left her some money. She met Camilla when they were both competing for the lead role in director Bob Brooker's film titled The Sylvia North Story.

[Note: The fictional film's storyline hinted at the plot of this film - a tragic tale of a fallen starlet. Earlier in the film, Adam was noted as the director.]

At that moment, a blonde unknown female (also Melissa George), the real ingenue actress and up-and-coming Hollywood star, came up to dark-haired bi-sexual Camilla and kissed her. Diane was also humiliated and crying when she saw Adam and Camilla kissing and announcing their engagement.

Jealously and with unrequited love over her lost girlfriend Camilla, Diane was seen arranging to hire a hitman at Winkie's diner (on Sunset Blvd.) to eliminate her competition. [Note: This was undoubtedly the same 'hit' attempted on 'Rita's life in the opening scene.]

While being served by a clumsy Winkie's waitress named Betty, Diane contracted for $50,000 to kill the voluptuous Camilla. The hitman pulled out a blue key and told Diane that once the hit had been made, she would find the key in a prearranged location. Behind the diner was a monstrous character - actually a disheveled homeless man and keeper of a box (a coffin?). He was symbolic of the 'demon' that started to breed evil thoughts in Diane's disintegrating mind - to kill her girlfriend.

Then in her home - with the blue key on the coffee table in front of her, Diane began wildly hallucinating, raced into her darkened bedroom, reached into her nightstand drawer for a gun, and suicidally shot herself in the head. She was found dead on her bed. (Earlier in the film, Betty and 'Rita' had gone to Diane Selwyn's apartment and had seen her dead and decaying body.)

Betty (Naomi Watts) and Dark-Haired 'Rita'

'Rita' Now a Blonde

The Blue Key Opens Blue Box in 'Rita's' Purse

Diane With 'Rita'/Camilla on Couch: Their Second Lesbian Encounter

Diane's Jealousy of 'Rita'/Camilla On-Set with Director Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux)

Diane's Breakup From Camilla/'Rita'

Diane's Fevered and Anguished Self-Pleasuring

Adam with Camilla - Announcing Their Engagement

Diane Arranging Camilla's Death with Hitman in Winkie's Diner

Horrifying Nightmarish Figure Behind Winkie's

Diane's Suicide

In the Club: "Silencio"

(Neil Simon's) Murder by Death (1976)

There Was No Murder of Millionaire Host Twain; The "Cook" Yetta, Thought At First to Be A Robot, Had Sought Revenge Against Five Famous Literary Detectives

In this plot-twisting, comedic 'who-dun-it' tale set in an old country mansion (at 22 Lola Lane), the main characters were five famous literary detectives, all with slightly different names:

  • Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers), Catalina Island Police Inspector and adopted No. 3 son Willie (Richard Narita) - symbolizing Charlie Chan
  • Dick and Dora Charleston (David Niven and Maggie Smith) - New York detectives symbolizing the Thin Man's Nick and Nora Charles
  • Milo Perrier (James Coco), Belgian Inspector with his chauffeur Marcel Cassette (James Cromwell) - symbolizing Hercule Poirot
  • Miss Jessie Marbles (Elsa Lanchester), amateur sleuth with her nurse Miss Withers (Estelle Winwood) - symbolizing Miss Marple
  • Sam Diamond (Peter Falk), hard-nosed PI and "dame" secretary Tess Skeffington (Eileen Brennan), symbolizing Sam Spade and Richard Diamond

The group was summoned to an old mansion for dinner by eccentric millionaire mastermind/host Lionel Twain (Truman Capote). They could win $1,000,000 if they could solve a murder to be committed within 24 hours at midnight.

The house was managed by blind butler Jamesir Bensonmum (Alec Guinness) and a deaf-mute maid/cook named Yetta (Nancy Walker). During the night, after the discovery of the dead butler, and equally dead Twain, and the cook was revealed as an animated mannequin or robot, there were various death threats to the guests, involving a venomous snake, deadly scorpion, falling ceiling in a shrinking room, poisonous gas, and a bomb.

Each of the sleuths came up with a completely ridiculous solution to the stabbing murder of Twain himself. They told their solutions to the butler Bensonmum, who was originally thought to have been dead, but was very much alive.

By film's end, it was revealed that there was no murder - making the mystery unsolvable. The butler removed his mask to reveal that he was Twain. After the guests left, Twain removed his mask to reveal that he was Yetta - the "deaf/dumb" maid/cook who was behind the entire scheme to make the detectives look like fools. But then, it begged the question: what had happened to Twain?

Presumably, Yetta had sought reader's revenge for the outlandish contrived plot endings in their novels, and laughed maniacally at the end after they had all left.

[Note: One might ask if Yetta was just another mask, or if Yetta had actually murdered both the butler and Twain.]

Millionaire Lionel Twain (Truman Capote)

Yetta (Nancy Walker)

Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings

(alphabetical by film title)
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