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

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920, Ger.)

The Narrator, Francis, Was the Real Madman, not Dr. Caligari

The main plot of this influential German silent horror film from director Robert Wiene was about a mysterious, insane hypnotist-doctor and his somnabulist. It probably had the first or earliest twist ending ever in a movie. It also featured some of the earliest and best examples of expressionistic visual style, with distorted dimensions, twisted and tilted angles on alleyways and buildings, lopsided doors, cramped rooms, overhanging buildings, skewed cityscapes, and dark shadows (all precursors of film noir).

In the film's prologue, Francis (Friedrich Feher) told a tale of the strange sufferings and horrible events that he had experienced, along with his 'fiancee' Jane Olsen (Lil Dagover). He was seated on a garden bench in a courtyard.

The main body of the film was Francis' tale - a flashback. He described how he had attended the annual town carnival-fair in Holstenwall, with his friend Alan (Hans Heinrich von Twardowski). It was advertised as having "Entertainments of Every Variety." The two came upon the "spectacle" of the mad and sinister Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss), who was advertising his exhibit with a life-sized poster, and encouraging fairgoers to enter his tent:

Step rrrrright up. Presenting here for the first time. Cesare, the Somnambulist. The miraculous Cesare, twenty-three years old, he has slept for twenty-three years -- Continuously -- Day and Night. Right before your eyes, Cesare will awaken from his death-like trance. Step right in!

That same night was the first in a series of mysterious crimes which took place. The hot-tempered town clerk who issued permits for the carnival, was murdered - stabbed in the side with a strange pointed instrument.

Back at the fair, Dr. Caligari opened his 'cabinet' - a large box-shaped coffin, and introduced a tall, slender, sleeping somnambulist named Cesare (Conrad Veidt) with a black leotard. He awakened Cesare from a death-like sleep - and his eyes slowly opened. He then proposed that the audience ask Cesare questions, since "Cesare knows every secret...knows the past and sees the future. Judge for yourselves. Don't hold back. Ask Away!" Alan asked the question: "How long will I live?" and was given the answer: "Till the break of dawn." After leaving the fair, Francis and Alan met up with Jane, and both admitted they loved her. Francis suggested: "We'll leave the choice up to her. But whomever she chooses, we shall remain friends." That night, as Cesare's prophetic prediction had stated, Alan was stabbed to death in his bed by a shadowy figure.

Francis vowed to find who was committing these dreadful deeds, and immediately suspected the somnambulist. But then news came of the arrest of the suspected two-time murderer - not the somnambulist! A criminal (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) confessed to attempting a similar crime.

Jane was also assaulted by Cesare with a long knife as she was sleeping, but because of her beauty, he hesitated to kill her. She was abducted rather than stabbed to death. During pursuit by a mob as he raced across rooftops and down alleys, Cesare released Jane unhurt, fell from exhaustion, and died.

When Dr. Caligari was investigated later, it was found that the Cesare that Francis had been observing in the coffin at the time of the kidnapping was only a dummy. Dr. Caligari fled during the confusion, and entered a mental institution to hide. Francis followed after him there, where he asked the white-coated attendants: "Do you have a patient by the name of CALIGARI?" When he was permitted to speak to the asylum's director, he shockingly discovered that the man was Caligari.

While Caligari slept in his villa later that night, Francis and other doctors searched through Dr. Caligari's office area, looking at his desk, books, and hand-written diary. They discovered that the insane doctor had become obsessed with somnambulism (Francis: "His specialty"). They found a book titled: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, that explained how the asylum's mad doctor was imitating a real, murderous 18th century Dr. Caligari:

In the year 1783, a mysticke by the name of Caligari toured the faires of numerous towns in northern Italy, accompanied by a somnambulist named Cesare. For months, he sowed panicke amongst village folke through a series of foul murders committed under almost identical circumstances...He had entirely subjugated to his will a Somnambulist named Cesare, whom he did compell to carry out his nefarious schemes. A puppet, the exact likeness of Cesare, and which took his place in a cabinet, allowed him to divert any suspicion that might fall on the Somnambulist.

To experiment with somnambulism, Dr. Caligari had made one of the sleepwalking asylum patients his 'Cesare'. When Caligari was shown the corpse of the patient, he went crazy. He exclaimed: "I must know everything. I must penetrate his secrets - I must become CALIGARI!" And then, the body of the murderous sleepwalker Cesare was found in a field, where he had died of exhaustion. Caligari was confronted:

Mr. Director - Unmask yourself - You are Dr. CALIGARI!

When he was shown Cesare's corpse, Dr. Caligari collapsed, then had to be restrained, and put into a strait-jacket. He was now institutionalized, and Francis ended his story: "...and from that day on, the madman never again left his cell."

The Major Twist
Francis - The Insane One
Dr. Caligari - The Respected Asylum Director with His Patient Francis

At the end of the tale (the film's epilogue), and with a return to the present, a twist ending was revealed. The entire film (a framed story with a flashback) was made up from the mad ramblings and delusions of Francis, the mentally-ill narrator/story-teller of the film while he was seated in the asylum courtyard. Francis was revealed to be a demented patient interred in the mental institution. Two other patients seen in his company were a crazed Jane (believing she was a Queen) and Cesare. Francis fearfully pointed out Cesare:

Look! There's Cesare! Never allow him to tell your fortune...or you're dead...!

The last scene was of Francis becoming madly insane when he saw the asylum director Dr. Caligari. He insisted that the director was the sinister and tyrannical "Dr. Caligari" of his story:

You all think that --- I'm insane - ! It isn't true -- It's the director who's insane! He is Caligari Caligari Caligari!

When Francis grabbed Dr. Caligari and tried to strangle him, he had to be restrained in a strait-jacket and placed in a cell to be treated. Now that he understood Francis' illness, Dr. Caligari confidently stated that he had a sure-fire way to cure Francis' delusions:

"At last I understand his delusion. He thinks I am that mystic CALIGARI! Now I know exactly how to cure him..."

Francis (Friedrich Feher) Telling His Tale, Seated in Courtyard

Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss)

At Fair, Caligari Advertising Cesare

Opening of the Cabinet - With Somnambulist Cesare Inside

Cesare's Eyes Opening

The Stabbing Death of Alan

Cesare About to Stab Jane - Then Abducting Her

Dr. Caligari - Posing as The Asylum Director!

Dr. Caligari Examining Body of Sleepwalking Patient

Dr. Caligari With Corpse of Cesare

Dr. Caligari Restrained in Strait-Jacket - Accused by Francis' Story of Being Crazy

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

A Group of Five Stereotypical (Archetypal) Horror Film Characters Were Under Surveillance and Manipulated by A Group of Scientists in a High-Tech Command Center. They Were Doomed to Die, To Appease the "Ancient Ones" During an Annual Ritualistic Sacrifice. A Blood-Lusting Satan-Like Creature Had To Be Placated Each Year. If Not, There Would Be A Global Apocalypse. Two Of the Five Teens Survived - They Decided To Rebel Against Their Fate, and Face Extinction With the Rest of Earth. A Gigantic Arm/Hand From Underneath Rose Up to Destroy Them

Director Drew Goddard's witty R-rated horror film (his feature-directing debut) was derived from a script he co-wrote with Joss Whedon. The self-aware, mischievous film, with plenty of in-jokes, had the tagline:

"You think you know the story."

It was derivative of, and paid homage to earlier classic horror films, such as Sam Raimi's first two Evil Dead films (1982 and 1987), Ringu (1998, Jp.), Eli Roth's Cabin Fever (2002), Ju-on: The Grudge (2003, Jp.), the Scream films (1996-2011), Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994), the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and the thematic set-up of The Truman Show (1998). Although it was actually shot in 2009, it was held up by MGM's bankruptcy, and then by new owners' Lionsgate that delayed the release for 3-D conversion (although it was eventually released flat).

The principal characters (obvious archetypes), all young and sex-crazed college students, ventured in an RV to Curt's cousin's new place, the Buckner place - a "cabin in the woods" located on a rural lake (similar to Friday the 13th's locales):

The Five Archetypal Characters
the Jock (or Athlete) Curt Vaughan (Chris Hemsworth), studly athletic football player
the Dumb Blonde (or Whore) Jules Louden (Anna Hutchison), Curt's girlfriend, a slutty college student
the Stoner (or Fool) Marty Mikalski (Fran Kranz), a drug-user pothead, who believed in conspiracies and suspected 'puppet-masters'; the film's comic relief
the Nice Guy (or Scholar) Holden McCrea (Jesse Williams), reserved, bookish and nerdy
the Good Girl (or Virgin) Dana Polk (Kristen Connolly), virginal, shy, awkward brunette

Everything that the group did was monitored by a group of white-shirted and short-sleeved technicians in a high-tech control room or command center - two who conducted surveillance on the group were:

  • Gary Sitterson (Richard Jenkins)
  • Steve Hadley (Bradley Whitford)

(There were similar projects underway in Sweden, Spain, Japan, and other countries around the world.) They were observing, manipulating, and betting on the outcome and fate of the choices of the characters - the film's slasher victims. The cabin was wired with hidden cameras, and the behaviors of the characters could be guided by pheromone sprays in the forest or mood-enhancing drugs. A large whiteboard, used by the scientists for betting which monsters would be picked, displayed dozens of horror categories, scenarios, and monsters to be selected for inclusion, i.e., Alien Beast, Vampires, Yeti, Sugar Plum Fairies, Dismemberment Goblins, Hell Lord, Zombie Redneck Torture Family, Deadites and Angry Molesting Trees.

In the climactic conclusion, the last two survivors (Marty, immune to the technicians' drugs, and last remaining virgin Dana) who were fighting back against their manipulated enslavement, entered (via elevator) into the underground laboratory labyrinth. In the lower levels of the tech facility, they were spoken to, via the PA system, by The Director (Sigourney Weaver), who described the scenario that they had just acted out.

They were five stereotypical teens doomed to die, to appease the "ancient ones" during an annual ritual sacrifice, as part of an ancient pact. Teens were fateful carnage for a blood-lusting Satan-like creature orchestrating the quasi-governmental organization to placate evil, to forestall a global apocalypse if the sacrificial scenario wasn't completed somewhere in the world. This time around, all of the other groups had failed:

"This is all most unpleasant. I know you can hear me. I hope you'll listen. You won't get out of this complex alive. What I want you to try to understand is that you mustn't. Your deaths will avert countless others. You've seen horrible things: an army of nightmare creatures. And they are real. But they are nothing compared to what lies beneath us. There is a greater good, and for that you must be sacrificed. Forgive us...and let us end it quickly."

In response, the two survivors unleashed an attack of many different creatures, including werewolves, spiders, mummies, zombies, ghosts, giant snakes, an Alien (1979) creature, killer robots, a Clive Barker-like Cenobite, and a killer clown. The technicians in the control room were among the victims, as was the Director. Marty and Dana decided not to follow the suggestion to die for the larger cause.

In the film's final scene, Marty and Dana smoked pot together, and gave in to the sleeping, giant evil gods that was rumbling beneath them.

Marty: "Giant evil gods."
Dana: "I wish I could have seen them."
Marty: "I know. That would have been a fun weekend."

The Ancient One's gigantic hand and arm from the lower chamber rose up to destroy them.

The Five Archetypal Horror Film Characters

The White-board, and Technician Gary Sitterson (Richard Jenkins)

The Control Room

Watching Jules
(Anna Hutchinson)

The Director
(Sigourney Weaver)

Two Survivors: Dana and Marty (Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz)

The Ancient One's
Gigantic Hand

Candyman (1992)

Helen's Spirit, the New Hook-Wielding "Candyman," Vengefully Killed Cheating Husband Trevor

This bloody modern horror film was based on Clive Barker's short story "The Forbidden." After the credits, the chilling film featured the title character's ominous voice-over heard over a massive honeycomb of swarming bees that were unleashed over the skies of Chicago -- clues to the frightening individual:

They will say that I have shed innocent blood. What's blood for if not for shedding? With my hook for a hand, I'll split you from your groin to your gullet. I came for you.

"Candyman" was coming for his latest 'victim':

  • Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), a University of Illinois in Chicago graduate student, married to Trevor Lyle (Xander Berkeley)

Helen was a female student researching superstitions and urban legends, including the "Candyman" - a one-armed, hook-wielding maniac haunting Chicago's Cabrini Green project, where dozens of murders had occurred.

She discovered that the "Candyman" could be summoned by repeating his name five times in a mirror. Hence, the film's tagline: "We Dare You To Say His Name Five Times!"

During a dinner, one of Helen's senior professors, Professor Philip Purcell (Michael Culkin) explained the historical development of the legend - Candyman was the vengeful spirit of a former slave, who was raised in wealth and education, but was tortured and killed by "brutal hooligans" after falling in love with a white woman and impregnating her:

The legend first appeared in 1890. Candyman was the son of a slave. His father had amassed a considerable fortune from designing a device for the mass-producing of shoes after the Civil War. Candyman had been sent to all the best schools and had grown up in polite society. He had a prodigious talent as an artist and was much sought after when it came to the documenting of one's wealth and position in society in a portrait. It was in this latter capacity that he was commissioned by a wealthy landowner to capture his daughter's virginal beauty. Well, of course, they fell deeply in love, and she became pregnant. Hmph. Poor Candyman. The father executed a terrible revenge. He paid a pack of brutal hooligans to do the deed. They chased Candyman through the town to Cabrini-Green, where they proceeded to saw off his right hand with a rusty blade. No one came to his aid. But this was just the beginning of his ordeal. Nearby there was an apiary. Dozens of hives, filled with hungry bees. They smashed the hives and stole the honeycomb, and smeared it over his prone, naked body. Candyman was stung to death by the bees. They burned his body on a giant pyre and then scattered his ashes over Cabrini-Green.

During her studies, Helen summoned the incarnated "Candyman" maniac (Tony Todd) - he had showed himself to her in a parking garage, to prove his existence. He kept repeating the words to her: "Be my victim."

The Candyman's Ribcage Covered in Bees

Helen appeared to be the reincarnation of Candyman's lover from his past - and he kissed her, transferring bees from himself to her. He offered her: "Come with me and be immortal." By film's end, both of them were consumed in a bonfire set by Cabrini-Green residents. Helen tried to escape but was trapped under burning beams, suffered massive burns, and later died (although she was able to save an infant baby named Anthony).

Still mourning the death of his wife Helen, cheating husband Trevor was in his bathroom when he called out Helen's name five times in front of a mirror, not knowing that he was invoking her return as a vengeful spirit that had replaced Candyman - she appeared in a bluish pulsating light and asked him:

"What's the matter, Trevor? Scared of something?"

Because he had been sleeping with another woman, a graduate student named Stacey (Carolyn Lowery) (who was in the kitchen with a long butcher knife preparing dinner), she took spectacular revenge against him. Helen killed Trevor by stabbing him in the stomach with the Candyman's large hook, ripping him open from his groin up to his neck - and leaving him a bloody corpse in the bathtub. Stacey found him: "Trevor... My God, Trevor? Trevor? Trevor?"

In Cabrini-Green, a painting of Helen with her hair ablaze on a wall was seen under the scrolling credits - she had entered the folklore of the legend.

The Skyline of Chicago, Bees, and Helen's Face

Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen)

The Legend of Candyman - Told by Professor Purcell

The Appearance of Candyman (Tony Todd)

"Come with me and be immortal"

Death in the Bonfire

Husband Trevor Lyle (Xander Berkeley)

Summoning Helen By Calling Her Name 5 Times

The Murder of Trevor

Stacey's Reaction

Wall Painting of Helen with Flaming Hair

Capricorn One (1977)

The Mars Mission Was a Sensational Hoax, Filmed in a TV Studio - And Finally Exposed During the Exciting Conclusion

Peter Hyams' socio-political, conspiracy thriller film hypothesized the problems of faking a flight to Mars on a soundstage in a television studio. It had an intriguing tagline:

The mission was a sham. The murders were real.

The film opened with the failed Capricorn One mission - the first manned mission to Mars. Just before its launch, with NASA knowing that the faulty life-support systems would kill the astronauts upon reentry, the three crew members were removed from the space shuttle during a declared "emergency" and flown to an abandoned and remote US Army Air Corps base in the desert:

  • Col. Charles Brubaker (James Brolin)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Peter Willis (Sam Waterston)
  • Commander John Walker (O.J. Simpson)

Once at the base, NASA director James Kelloway (Hal Holbrook) explained how NASA feared it would lose its space-program funding if the mission failed ("It was a mission that never got off the ground" - the trailer announced), so it was decided that they would fake everything. The space launch and landing proceeded ("This is Capricorn One, we have landed"), but with an empty capsule. The astronauts faked the footage during their flight to and from the red planet. They had reluctantly been pressured into creating a charade for the cameras.

When flight control center technician Elliot Whitter (Robert Walden) recognized discrepancies in the transmissions, his suspicious journalist friend-reporter Robert Caulfield (Elliott Gould) resumed an investigation when all evidence of the technician and his life disappeared and were erased ("Something's wrong and I don't know what it is").

During the empty spacecraft's reentry, it burned up due to a faulty heat-shield, and the 'expendable' astronauts realized that they could never return to society or the hoax would be revealed. When they feared they would be terminated in the cover-up, they fled in a Lear Jet, although they crash-landed (after depleting their fuel), were stranded in the desert, and decided to split up to get back to populated areas.

The only astronaut to avoid murder by NASA-hired assassins was USAF Colonel Charles Brubaker - he was the sole crew member left alive to expose the plot. With his own life in danger, reporter Caulfield met up with Brubaker, and during the 'live' memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery for the 'dead' astronauts as the US President (Norman Bartold) delivered a eulogy, they exposed the fraudulent mission. They pulled up in a car and ran through the rows of grave markers to the astonished, assembled group - ending on a freeze-frame.

The Faked Mission

Fleeing in a Lear Jet

Freeze-Frame Ending of Astronaut Brubaker at His Own Memorial Srevice

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Mary's Car Crash Was Deadly

In this classic horror film's final scene, it was revealed that all three female passengers in a car, including talented young organist Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss), that plunged off a bridge and into a muddy river during a drag race, never survived the crash.

However, in the film's opening, it appeared that Mary had survived when she emerged unscathed.

Her dreams, imagined visions and trances involving the ghouls in a dance of death were due to her hallucinations during her death experience and entry into the spirit world.

In the revelatory final scene's plot twist, the submerged car (with Mary's corpse inside) was partially dredged out of the river.

The Deadly Crash

Mary's Imagined Survival

Corpses in Dredged-Out Car

Carrie (1976)

Carrie's Sole Surviving Classmate Sue Dreamed The Visit To Carrie's Grave

In the shock second ending to this De Palma horror film, surviving classmate Sue Snell (Amy Irving) was holding a bouquet of flowers. She was visiting the defiled gravesite of her student friend, dead psychic Carrie White's (Sissy Spacek). Carrie and her mother (Piper Laurie) had perished in their collapsing house.

The grave had a graffiti-marked For Sale sign reading: "Carrie White burns in hell" and an arrow pointing downward.

As Sue went to put the flowers on the grave, Carrie's bloody hand burst out of the ground at her and grabbed her arm to pull her down into hell with her - the white-clad young girl screamed and suddenly woke up.

She was dreaming - while recuperating in her bed at home. She kept on screaming hysterically and being grabbed, while held by her reassuring mother (Priscilla Pointer) ("It's all right, I'm here") as she experienced more nightmares.

The Gravesite Visit: The Shock Ending

Casablanca (1942)

Rick Heroically Allowed Lover Ilsa to Leave on A Plane to Lisbon with Husband Victor

This classic war-era film ended on a foggy airstrip in Casablanca, when cafe owner Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) sacrificially chose patriotism over his personal love.

He told teary-eyed former lover Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) to get on the plane departing for freedom with her husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid):

"Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor. You're part of his work, the thing that keeps him going."

Rick walked off with Capitaine Louis Renault (Claude Rains) across the wet runway into the misty fog, as Rick told Renault that they have forged a new alliance: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" - their new partnership was underscored with the triumphant sounds of La Marseillaise.

Rick With Ilsa at Airport Farewell

"A Beautiful Friendship"

Catfish (2010)

NYC Photographer Nev Schulman's Facebook Friend Angela Had Entirely Fabricated Herself and Her Related Family - Young Abby Was Not A Child Prodigy Artist, and Sexy Stepsister Megan's Songs Had Been Pirated from the Web; Angela Had Created All of the Paintings, and Deceptively Created False Personas for Megan and Abby

The filmmakers of the quasi-documentary Catfish (2010), Henry Joost and Ariel (or "Rel") Schulman, were challenged to keep the startling revelation of the film from viewers in misleading trailers. The film's cryptic poster, with a drawing of a blood-red catfish, warned: "DON'T LET ANYONE TELL YOU WHAT IT IS." One of its taglines was:

"Think Before You Click."

It seemed to be a contrived, exploitative hoax and manipulative mystery story dramatizing the unusual circumstances, in order to capitalize on its anti-climactic, somewhat predictable conclusion. Some questioned its horror-film teasers. Many asked: how much was staged or misrepresented, and how much was true? It was a remarkable counter-point to the year's social-media hit, David Fincher's The Social Network (2010).

In 2007, one of 24 year-old NY photographer Yaniv (or "Nev") Schulman's (the filmmaker's brother) photographs had appeared in The New York Sun newspaper. Three months later, Yaniv received a painting of his photograph in the mail. It had been sent by 8 year-old Abby Pierce living in rural Michigan. In response to the astounding painting of ballet dancers, and thinking that she was a child prodigy, he digitally sent her another of his photos to paint, and followed it by many more similar requests, giving her permission. Afterwards, he and Abby's family, including Abby's mother Angela (Wesselman), father Vincent (Stephen Fogarty) and her brother Alex, frequently corresponded by email and by phone - and online through Facebook - and he began to receive packages of Abby's paintings from Angela.

He also engaged in a virtual, long-distance courtship-romance with Abby's beautiful 19 year-old step-sister Megan Faccio, an alleged artist, singer-musician (plays the cello), dancer, vet-animal lover and aspiring model. He later shared one sexy conversation that they had experienced together in a chat room with her (Megan after a proposed bath together: "I'd take you to my room and dry you off, touching every inch of you, kissing you long and hard to take your breath away...I want you so badly my body aches for you").

He first discovered deception when Megan sent a digital MP3 file of her singing the song "All Downhill From Here" - an exact duplicate of a recording sung by Amy Kuney (Nev: "She posted somebody else's music...It's not even her singing. It's just a recording of somebody else's song"). They also found another of Megan's pirated songs, "Tennessee Stud," the same exact recording from a YouTube video by Suzanna Choffel. Nev was astounded: "They are complete psychopaths. I've probably been chatting with a guy this whole time." He vowed: "I mean, that is enough for me to just never, ever talk to them again. Why should I waste time with this?" Realizing he had been duped, the gullible Nev also uncovered lies about their purchase of a remodeled main street building (the old JC Penney) in Ishpeming, Michigan that Abby claimed she used for her art gallery showings.

However, after eight months of contact and correspondence, he decided to personally confront the family. The filmmakers and Nev flew to Chicago and then drove to Ishpeming, Michigan (on their way back to NYC from Vail, Colorado) to meet Abby and the other relatives. They first cruised by Megan's alleged horse farm in nearby Gladstone, Michigan at about 2:30 in the morning. In the mailbox, they found Nev's postcards with a red stamp: "Returned to This Address For Proper Disposition." It was obvious that Megan didn't live there.

Then, the group dropped in unexpectedly on the other family members, where they had more predictable but shocking discoveries. The entire family had been misrepresented with numerous false claims, including the fact that Angela fabricated almost everything regarding Megan, Abby and herself:

  • Angela Pierce was a middle-aged, 40-ish, shy, lonely (and very imaginative) female Facebook user and housewife with two "handicapped" and totally-dependent twin stepsons (Ronald and Anthony, her husband's "retarded" sons from a previous marriage) who required exhausting and constant care; she claimed that she had recently undergone chemotherapy for uterine cancer (revealed later as a fabrication)
  • Angela was married to Vince, and they had been together for 10 years; when she married him, she realized she would be sacrificing her career, social life, and sense of self-accomplishment and happiness, while tending to the two stepsons
  • Vince had been told that Nev had commissioned (paid for) every piece of artwork created by Angela, to further her career; Angela knew that she wasn't telling the truth, but didn't want to lose Nev's friendship by revealing her deceptions
  • Abby, their only child together, existed, although Abby's artwork was created entirely by Angela
  • Angela impersonated Megan, using a different voice
  • Angela claimed that the pictures of Megan were of a family friend (although it was later revealed that Angela didn't know the girl in the pictures); the pictures were actually of Aimee Gonzales, a professional model and photographer who lived in Vancouver, WA with her husband and two children
  • The real Megan was estranged from the family, and had been in rehab for four months for alcohol use, allegedly at Dawn Farms located downstate (a location revealed later as a fabrication)
  • Every night from 11:00 pm onward, Angela created her fantasy family and friends, using Facebook and over a dozen false profiles (using photographs of strangers), keeping contact with her home phone and two other cell phones (one representing Megan, and one representing Angela)
  • Once an aspiring but failed dancer, she admitted that her life on the Web was stimulating and fulfilling to her: "A lot of the personalities that came out were just fragments of myself. Fragments of things I used to be. Wanted to be. Never could be...And I don't know most days who I am." Angela apologized to Nev: "I feel so bad for you and what I've done."
The "real" Angela
Stepson Ronald

In the film's epilogue, Vince explained the film's title:

"They used to tank cod from Alaska all the way to China. They'd keep them in vats in the ship. By the time the codfish reached China, the flesh was mush and tasteless. So this guy came up with the idea that if you put these cods in these big vats, put some catfish in with them, and the catfish will keep the cod agile. And there are those people who are codfish in life, and they keep you on your toes. They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh. And I thank God for the catfish, because we'd be droll, boring and dull if we didn't have somebody nipping at our fin."

The end notes mentioned that over the course of their 9-month correspondence, Angela and Nev had exchanged over 1,500 messages. It was stated that Angela deactivated her 15 other profiles and changed her Facebook profile to a picture of herself. She now had a website promoting herself as a serious artist. And Nev was still on Facebook, currently with 732 friends (including Angela).

Abby's House
(Ishpeming, Michigan)

Nev Schulman

(Abby's mother)

(Abby's father)

(Abby's Half-Sister)

Pictures of "Abby" on
"Megan's" Page

"Megan" and Nev
Photoshopped Together

(Aimee Gonzales)

The "real" Vincent

The Cell (2000)

Dr. Deane Successfully Brought Comatose, Schizophrenic Serial Killer Stargher Into Her Own Mind, Where She Murdered Him; Stargher's Latest Victim To Be Drowned in the "Cell" Was Rescued

Director Tarsem Singh's stylish and innovative sci-fi, psychological thriller (his first feature film) was a combination of a typical police procedural (The Silence of the Lambs (1991) or Se7en (1995)) mixed with a virtual reality gimmick, as in The Lawnmower Man (1992).

In the opening, child psychotherapist Dr. Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) demonstrated her special empathic talent, coupled with a revolutionary new treatment technique. She entered into the mind of a comatose young boy named Edward Baines (Colton James) who nearly drowned on Seal Beach. As one of the researchers said of her risky VR journey:

"It's like the old wives' tale where you die in your dream, you die in real life."

A serial killer in rural Southern California, identified as sadomasochistic Carl Rudolph Stargher (Vincent D'Onofrio), was often accompanied by a rare albino German Shepherd (named Valentine). He had built a glass-enclosed "cell' in an underground chamber near an abandoned tin-sheeted building (near Exit 10 off Highway 99) where he kept each captive kidnapped victim (randomly grabbed) to torment.

He would watch and record them on a set of four closed-circuit TV monitors as he meticulously fed and cared for them before slowly drowning them. With one recent victim, Anne Marie Vicksey (Catherine Sutherland), he gazed at her as she floated after drowning in the cell.

In the basement of his small house, Stargher treated the body of his most recent victim: bleaching it in a milky substance (and turning it into a "doll"), then viewing it while suspended over the corpse, hung by 14 steel rings-hooks implanted into his back, and masturbating at his handiwork. Nearby, he displayed a grotesque collection of painted and pale child's play 'dolls', some of which were modeled in absurd postures in tableaus. Links signifying compatible empathy between Deane and Stargher were evident early on - for example, when Deane fed milk to her cat, there was a direct cut to a dead victim's milky-bleach bath.

Stargher had just suffered from an irreversible coma during his apprehension by a SWAT team (he was tracked down by a hair from his rare albino dog). Dr. Deane was called upon by the FBI, led by Agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn), for a desperate favor. Since the comatose Stargher could not confess to the location of his recently-kidnapped eighth victim, Julia Hickson (Tara Subkoff), Dr. Deane was called upon to locate the information needed inside Stargher's mind. Her efforts were to discover the location of the missing female kidnap victim and rescue her from fateful drowning (automatically timed to occur within 40 hours) in the tank-cell.

Deane entered into his twisted, depraved, damaged and bizarre psyche and mental landscape to confront his dreams and his persona, represented by inventive, disturbing visuals. When first entering Stargher's demented mind, she followed his younger version (Jake Thomas). She had found that one of Stargher's alter egos in his severe schizoid personality was a young abused boy. She saw how young Stargher was reliving how his abusive father had whipped him for playing with dolls ("I didn't raise no faggot"), burned him with an iron, river-baptized him (nearly drowning him) - with water representing both death and salvation, and broke three ribs and fractured his jaw when he was six years old.

Others of Stargher's alter egos included more violent iterations: a Grand Guignol king with a purple cape on a throne, and an evil, demonic devil satyr with horns created out of human hair. Agent Novak was also compelled to enter Stargher's mind to search for a trapped Dr. Deane (taken captive by Stargher, wearing a neck collar and chain). Both risked insanity and death if they remained too long. Novak found himself struggling, bound and prone, as Stargher plaintively sang "Mairzy Doats" and disemboweled him with a large pair of scissors.

In the end, a clue from the logo of the steel torture slab (and hoist), manufactured by Carver Industrial Equipment in Bakersfield, California, led them to the location of Stargher's trapped victim. Novak flew by helicopter, discovered the trap door leading to Julia's 'cell,' smashed the enclosure and rescued her just before she drowned.

At the same time, without authorization, Deane reversed the feed and took Stargher into her own consciousness. Representing a Catholic Virgin Mary (wearing red and white), she took young Stargher into her trust. He admitted that his pathology started when he drowned an injured bird as a mercy killing ("It was better for the bird. I saved him") to save it from his father's torture. She then killed the murderous adult Stargher, by stabbing him in the heart with a sword, claiming: "My world, my rules."

At the same time, she cradled the young Stargher in her arms as he also died and peacefully drowned in a baptism pool. As young Carl had saved the hurt bird, she also saved him from his beastly persona through mercy killing.

Dr. Deane as Virgin Mary Cradling Young Stargher
FBI Agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn) Rescuing Victim
Success With Comatose Patient Edward

In the denouement, Dr. Deane adopted Stargher's albino dog, and used the reverse process to break through to her other young comatose patient Edward (her success was symbolized by blooming trees, falling snow, and an unbroken toy boat).

Agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn)

Dr. Deane (Jennifer Lopez)

Dead Victim Anne Marie Vicksey (Catherine Sutherland)

Sadomasochistic Serial Killer Carl Stargher Above Dead Nude Victim

Recently-Kidnapped 8th Victim Julia About to Be Drowned in Tank-Cell

Milky Bleach Bath for Victim

One of Stargher's Grotesque 'Doll Models' in His Horrific Gallery of Tableaus

Stargher as Grand Guignol King With Purple Cape on Throne

The End of Murderous Adult Stargher

Certified Copy (2010, Fr.) (aka Copie Conforme)

The Two Strangers Were Possibly a 15-Year Married Couple, With a Son, Who Were Attempting to Make Sense of Their Dissolving Relationship Over the Course of a Day; In the Ambiguous Film, They Were Either Estranged or Play-Acting Being Wed But in a Disintegrating Marriage

This international arthouse film was written and directed by Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, and a co-production of France, Italy and Belgium. Its star Juliette Binoche was awarded the Best Actress Award at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival for her performance.

The main mystery of this bittersweet, provocative, dialogue-heavy film was the nature of the playful, puzzling and ambiguous relationship between the two protagonists. Was their meeting the first time, or had they known each other from before, or were they married to each other? In its mood, naturalistic and raw dialogue, there were similarities to the subject of Orson Welles' F for Fake (1973), and also reflections of the trilogy of 'Before' films:

  • Before Sunrise (1995)
  • Before Sunset (2004)
  • Before Midnight (2013)

The very cerebral film opened in the central Italian village of Arezzo in Tuscany with a book talk-conference delivered by British writer James Miller (William Shimell) about his latest work Copie Conforme (aka "Certified Copy"), recently awarded "the prize of the best foreign essay of the year." Its original title was - "Forget the Original, Just Get a Good Copy." In a reserved seat in the front row of the audience was an unnamed, French art-gallery/antiques dealer (Juliette Binoche), apparently a single mother who lived in Italy and was accompanied by her 11 year-old son Julien (Adrian Moore).

He began his talk with musings on authenticity (originality) and fakery in art (diegesis vs. mimesis). The author stated emphatically that nothing was original, and that original artifacts were over-rated. Every reproduction was itself an original and even an original was a copy of another art form (i.e., the Mona Lisa was a copy of the original model it was based upon). He postulated that fakes or copies had the same legitimacy as originals, because they often led us to a better understanding of the original.

Art is not an easy subject to write about. There are no fixed points of reference, no easy truths to fall back on. The copy itself has worth in itself in that it leads us to the original and in that way certifies its value.

The distracted mother and restless son departed early before the book signing (she had bought 6 books) due to the boy's hungry appetite for a hamburger and Coke. She left her contact information with Miller's translator (Angelo Barbagallo).

The author and the woman (known only as She or Elle in the credits) met up later in the day at her dark, below street-level boutique shop, and they decided to drive around the countryside together, under one condition: he had a train to catch at 9:00 pm ("I have to be back here at 9 for my train, nine o'clock"). They spent much of the day together wandering in the nearby rustic Tuscany town of Lucignano (often a favored place for marriages). At the town's museum (with a famous reliquary known as "L'albero Della Vita" (Tree of Life)) where they found themselves surrounded by couples in tuxedos and wedding gowns, they discussed the book's premise - the issue of authenticity in the arts (originals vs. reproductions or copies). They viewed a centuries-old revered painting that was actually a forged reproduction - still protected with a glass box and alarm system.

At the cafe (as James took a cell-phone call), the owner-proprietor (Gianna Giachetti) was fooled into thinking that She and the man were a married couple. She explained her disappointment and frustrations with her 'husband' for working all the time: ("I didn't get married to live alone! I'd like to live my life with my husband. Is a good husband too much to ask for?..."), although the cafe-owner disagreed and thought work was a good thing for a man. Afterwards, She admitted to James that they had become believable as a married couple: "She mistook you for my husband. I didn't correct her." He responded: "Obviously, we make a good couple. What do you think?" They began to act as if they were a married couple, although in a relationship that had broken apart and was experiencing serious strains. Now during the course of their conversations, their spoken language shifted from English, to bits and pieces of their dialogue spoken in Italian and then in French.

The premise of the book was related to their relationship: Were they authentic and real with each other, or only certified copies pretending? Were they faking or role-playing being married, with a false history and backstory?

During a late lunch break, She excused herself to go to the restroom, to adorn herself with dangly costume jewelry earrings and bright red lipstick, as if she was playing 'makeup.' When she returned to the table, he was too busy arguing with the waiter over an inferior bottle of wine to notice her fresh attractiveness, and he insulted her with a sarcastic comment about her knowledge of wine: "Oh, you like it? How could I forget? The French know everything about wine!"

As the movie ended, they spoke more and more convincingly about their relationship - they seemed to be a long-married couple of 15 years with a son, and it was their wedding anniversary. She asked him: "Remember the hotel of our wedding night?" - they went to the pensione nearby and requested a visit in Room # 9 on the third floor: "Could it be possible to take a look at it. It seems to be free. We want to remember that night." Inside the room, they talked about the passage of time and the changes they had undergone, and she appeared to be seducing him.

He stood before the bathroom mirror, self-reflexively, before he decided to abruptly leave her (again?) - as church bells (wedding or funeral) pealed in the background:

She: You are not changed, always you. You're always sweet, fascinating, and cold. I know that you do it to protect yourself, but you are always so cold.
James: That's not true.
She: What is not true? I've changed? You?
James: You are even more beautiful.
She: And more stupid...
James: No. I never said that, never...
She: If we were a bit more tolerant of each other's weaknesses, we'd be less alone. I know one can live alone but... Did you see that couple next door? I envied them. Stay with me. Stay. It's better. Better for both of us. For you and for me. Give us that chance.
James: I told you, I must be at the station by nine.
She: Yes, I know.

British Writer James Miller (William Shimell)

Audience Member She (Juliette Binoche)

11-Year Old Son

Driving Through Countryside

Playing at 'Makeup'

In Their Wedding Night Hotel Room

Changeling (2008)

There Was Hope for Single Mother Christine Collins That Her Kidnapped Son Walter Was Still Alive After Missing For Seven Years, and Possibly Not Axed to Death by Child Molester Gordon Northcott at His Ranch in Wineville, CA (Riverside County)

Directed by Clint Eastwood, this drama-thriller about police incompetence in the aftermath of a kidnapping, and the subsequent actions of a courageous mother during a desperate search, was a true story that occurred in Los Angeles in the 1920s. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Angelina Jolie. Its tagline:


The plot's storyline, set in 1928 Los Angeles, opened with the disappearance of nine year-old son Walter (Gattlin Griffith), discovered to be missing by single mother Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) after she returned home late from work. She was aided in her tenacious quest for her son by benevolent activist Reverend Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich) of St. Paul's Presbyterian.

After five months, the inept, violent and corrupt Los Angeles Police Department, led by Chief James E. Davis (Colm Feore) and his "Gun Squad," announced that the boy had been found in DeKalb, Illinois. When reunited with his grief-stricken mother five months later at the train station, she claimed that 'Walter' (Devon Conti) was not her son but an obvious imposter (a changeling):

"That's not my son...It's not my son...I'm not mistaken...I would know my own son."

She was forced to take the strange boy home on a "trial basis" by the head of the LAPD's Juvenile Division, Captain J. J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan), although she was steadfast when accused of shirking her responsibilities as a mother:

"What worries me is that you have stopped looking for my son!...Because you have not found him."

Challenging the Prohibition-era police authority, she pointed out two major differences between the two boys:

  • 'Walter' was three inches shorter in stature (measured at the kitchen door)
  • Walter was circumcised
  • It was later learned that there were dental differences as well

When she reported the discrepancies to the press, Christine was discredited, slandered and unjustly committed to Los Angeles County General Hospital's psychopathic ward (with a Code 12 internment order without a warrant), where she was subjected to a shower and invasive medical exam. She was diagnosed as being paranoid, dislocated from reality and delusional. She was taken under observation and forced to absolve the LAPD 'of all responsibility' for their actions.

Meanwhile, Detective Lester Ybarra (Michael Kelly) was investigating a "juvenile matter" involving illegals from Canada in rural Wineville (Riverside County), CA. One of the apprehended male illegals from Canada, 15 year-old Sanford Clark (Eddie Alderson), claimed to Ybarra that his suspicious rancher cousin Gordon Stewart Northcott (Jason Butler Harner) held him against his will and threatened to kill him if he left the ranch. He confessed that child molester Northcott murdered 20 kidnapped boys (although one or two may have escaped), with Sanford's help - one of whom was identified by a photograph as Walter. The young boys were snatched from the streets of Los Angeles and detained in the dilapidated ranch's chicken coop before being hacked to death with an axe.

To prove his words, Sanford dug up the area at the ranch where the bodies were buried. The news ("Kids found murdered in Riverside. Biggest crime in Los Angeles history. Collins boy assumed dead") forced authorities at the psychopathic ward to release Mrs. Collins. The fake 'Walter' admitted he had come to Los Angeles to see his cowboy idol Tom Mix and his horse Tony.

During a trial involving LAPD incompetence, 'Walter' confessed that the police coerced him to lie about his identity ("They said I was Walter Collins, not me! It wasn't my idea"). [He was really Arthur Hutchins of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.] The trial-hearing ended with the permanent suspension of Captain Jones, and the removal of the Chief of Police.

Northcott had fled as a fugitive to Vancouver, Canada to his sister's place, where he was apprehended and afterwards put on trial for the murders. He was found guilty and sentenced to hang in two years after serving solitary confinement at San Quentin, without confessing in person to Christine whether he committed the crimes or not just before his execution. Her last words to him were: "I hope you go to hell."

In the film's epilogue, in the year 1935, another one of Northcott's kidnapped boys named David Clay (Asher Axe), was found alive. He described to Ybarra how one of the other abducted males with him was Walter, who bravely helped David escape: "All I know is, if Walter hadn't come back for me, I don't think I ever would have gotten out of there." However, he didn't know whether Walter was recaptured or got away. (Was Walter still alive?) He didn't tell anybody about his ordeal due to being scared:

"I was afraid. I thought they'd come after me, or my folks. So, I just didn't tell anybody...Since I didn't tell anybody what happened. I was afraid they'd blame me for those kids being dead. So I just stayed away."

Christine was given hope that after five years, one boy was found, as she described her newfound confidence to Detective Ybarra in the film's final line of dialogue:

"Three boys made a run for it that night, Detective. And if one got out, then maybe either or both of the others did, too. Maybe Walter's out there, having the same fears that he did. Afraid to come home and identify himself, or afraid he'll get in trouble. But either way, it gives me something I didn't have before today...Hope."

The final image in the conclusion was Christine walking across a downtown LA street as the camera boom rose up slightly, when the title stated: "Christine Collins never stopped searching for her son."

Mother Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) With Son Walter (Gattlin Griffith)

The Changeling

"Kidnapped Collins Lad Returned to Mother"

Christine in Psycho Ward

Child Molester and Murderer: Gordon Stewart Northcott (Jason Butler Harner)

Walter Identified in Photograph

Confession of David Clay (Asher Axe)

The Film's Ending - Christine With Detective Ybarra

The Changeling (1980, Can.)

The Rented Mansion Was Haunted With the Spirit of a Murdered Child from Many Decades Earlier; Senator Carmichael Was Revealed to be 'The Changeling' - An Imposter Heir Named Joseph, Who Had Taken the Place of the Real Joseph When He Was Drowned as a Boy

Director Peter Medak's tense and unsettling haunted house entry was burdened with an unusual and confusing title. Although it turned out to be a major plot point, it wasn't made clear until about 3/4ths of the way through the film what it was referring to.

The main character was:

  • John Russell (George C. Scott), a composer/musician and university teacher - a recently-mourning widower

He rented and moved into a haunted Seattle three-story mansion while working at his alma mater. He was still having nightmares and dealing with his own personal tragedy after witnessing the death of his wife Joanna and young daughter Kathy in a freak snow-plow accident in the film's opening during a winter vacation in upstate NY.

The mansion rental deal in Chessman Park was facilitated by one of the historical society's workers Claire Norman (Trish Van Devere), although he was warned about the old gothic house:

"No one's been able to live in it. It doesn't want people."

Deeply-disturbing imagery, supernatural phenomena (a piano key pressed by an unknown presence, a broken window), and sounds (strange thumping and clanging noises, doors slamming, running faucets, whispering sounds, Kathy's rubber ball bouncing down the stairs, etc.) began to appear to Russell, as well as an apparition of a boy underwater (when he went to turn off a faucet that had partially filled a bathtub).

He discovered a secret padlocked doorway behind a bookcase, leading from the 3rd floor up to the attic, where he found a dusty, cob-web covered children's room. In it was a music box, playing the same tune that he had been composing on the piano. Investigating with Claire, Russell first found an historical record in the local library that a local girl named Cora had been killed near the house by a coal truck - similar to the death of his own daughter.

Note: Maybe the house was trying to reach out to him, because of the similarities between the death of the little girl and his own daughter?

During a seance, a frenzied medium received ghostly answers to her questions, not from Cora, but from a spirit named Joseph, and a large cone-shaped object sailed across the room. Russell received further communicative manifestations from the poltergeist - a crippled young boy named Joseph Carmichael - when he replayed a tape recording of the seance.

He discovered that the six-year old boy had been murdered (drowned) by his father Richard Carmichael in the attic's bathtub in the early 1900s. [The thumping noise was the sound of the boy's frantic fist banging on the side of the tub during the horrific murder.] And it appeared that the six term, powerful, wealthy and elderly US Senator Joe Carmichael (Melvyn Douglas), the local symphony's benefactor, was somehow involved and wanted to keep it covered up.

In the film's conclusion, Senator Carmichael was revealed to be "the changeling" - an imposter or fake son Joseph. After the secret murder of the real Joseph during his bath in the attic, the scheming father Richard led everyone to believe that he had taken the sickly boy to Europe (for special therapy in a sanitarium). In fact, he had substituted a boy (the future Senator) from the local Sacred Heart orphanage in his place, in order to inherit the boy's fortune. Richard's motive to replace the sickly and arthritic Joseph was greed, since his deceased wife's multi-million fortune was willed to Joseph, whom Richard feared wouldn't live to the age of 21, long enough to acquire the wealth. Then, after a miraculous recovery in Europe, the imposter boy "returned to inherit an empire."

The real Joseph was buried in a deep well on the Carmichael's family ranch (now existing under a house where a young girl's bedroom was located, and where she experienced nightmares of an emaciated boy reaching for her). A digging under the floorboards found skeletal bones and the boy's baptism medal in the dirt of the well.

(The Senator had in his possession a fake medal which he wore around his neck. He probably knew about the deathly swap that had brought him great fortune - however, the sins of the father were soon to be vengefully visited upon the 'son'.)

Russell confronted the aging Carmichael in the Senator's home with the entire story about the murdered son ("That changeling was you"), but he denied the truth of it. Russell was offered blackmail money to keep silent ("All right, how much do you want for this farce that you've concocted?") but refused. Russell vehemently chastised Russell:

"Truth terrifies you, doesn't it?...It won't be buried...None of this belongs to you!...It should have gone to that dead child. You suspected something was wrong all your life. You're not Joseph Carmichael. You're the beneficiary of the cruelest kind of murder - murder for profit."

The Senator berated Russell for accusing his father (actually step-father) of murder: "My father was not a murderer...My father was a great man, a loving man...I will not allow you to slander his good name." Before departing, Russell left the real medal with the Senator, found in the burial digging. When the Senator placed the real medal on a portrait of foster father Richard on his desk, her heard the doomed boy crying: "My medal" - and then "Father, don't!" before it began to violently shake.

The Senator became hypnotized and had an out-of-body or dream-like experience - his illusionary double entered the burning mansion, climbed the flaming stairs to the attic, and saw the same vision of Joseph's drowning death at the hands of his father. Then, back at his own home, the Senator suffered a fatal heart attack as the attic exploded. He was wheeled into an ambulance from his home. At the same time, Claire had rescued Russell from the mansion that was burning to the ground.

The next morning, the camera zoomed toward the burning embers of the mansion, and focused on Joseph's burned-up wheelchair, and his music box that suddenly clicked open and began playing a lullaby. Justice seemed to have finally been attained.

Joseph's Burned Wheelchair
Joseph's Music Box

The Rented Gothic Mansion

Apparition of Boy (Joseph Carmichael) Underwater

The Drowning of Joseph Carmichael

Joseph's Skeletal Bones

US Senator Joseph Carmichael (Melvyn Douglas) - "The Changeling" - Comparing the Real and Fake Baptism Medals

Placing Real Medal on Portrait of Father Richard Carmichael

The Senator's Illusionary Double Climbing the Flaming Mansion Stairs to Attic

Russell Saved From Burning Mansion

The Senator's Fatal Heart Attack in His Home

Charade (1963)

Reggie's Husband Hid His Money in Stamps on An Envelope Before Being Killed

In this clever and sophisticated suspense comedy/mystery, the recently-widowed and elegant Regina "Reggie" Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) found herself pursued by many harrassing men, even though she was penniless after her husband Charles was brutally murdered by being thrown from a train (she was planning on divorcing him anyway).

She became extremely vulnerable and apprehensive after learning that her husband stole government money during WWII, and feared that his double-crossed victims (all Army war buddies) wanted to locate the lost or hidden gold treasure worth $250,000. The Army buddies included:

  • Tex Panthollow (James Coburn)
  • Herman Scobie (George Kennedy)
  • Leopold Gideon (Ned Glass)
  • Carson Dyle (Walter Matthau), aka Mr. Hamilton Bartholomew
  • ? Alexander Dyle/Peter Joshua (Cary Grant)

One of the men who also seemed to be in pursuit was the enigmatic yet suave Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) - raising the question: Were the beguiling Joshua's motives honest and above reproach, or was he hiding secrets from her, and not disclosing his true identity?

The man identified as CIA administrator Mr. Hamilton Bartholomew (Walter Matthau) was actually revealed to be Carson Dyle, who had survived being shot by the Germans, and was killing off his back-stabbing Army buddies to get at Charles' money.

By the film's conclusion, it was revealed that alias Peter Joshua (going by four different names, including Alexander Dyle (Carson's brother), and Adam Canfield) was really Mr. Brian Cruikshank of the Treasury Department when his secretary buzzed him in his office. He made a surprise proposal of marriage to Reggie in his office to end the film:

Reggie: "...Marriage license! Did you say marriage license?"
Cruikshank: "Now don't change the subject. Just give me the stamps."
Reggie: "Oh, I love you, Adam... Alex... Peter... Brian... Whatever your name is. Oh, I love you. I hope we have a lot of boys and we can name them all after you!"
Cruikshank: "Well, before we start that, may I have the stamps?"

It was also revealed that the treasure - the subject of the frenzied search within the film - had been converted into valuable and rare stamps by Reggie's estranged husband Charles just before he was murdered:

(fictional stamps in film)

(actual valuable rare stamps)
Valuable and Rare Stamps
(approx. value in the year 2010)
In Film (Fictional Counterparts)
(with a raised or lowered value of one)
  • the Swedish orange 3 skilling
    ($3 million)
  • "Swedish 4 shilling called Den Gula Fyraskillingen, printed in 1854...worth $85,000"
  • the "Hawaiian Missionaries" 2 cent blue
  • "The Hawaiian blue" - 3 cents, worth $65,000.
  • the 81 para blue Romanian "cap de bour" on blue paper
  • "The most valuable stamp in the world. It's called the Gazette Maldave. It was printed by hand on colored paper and marked with the initials of the printer. Today it has a value of $100,000."
In reality, the stamps were worth about $4 million in the year 2010, sixteen times their film value of $250,000.

Reggie (Audrey Hepburn) With Brian Cruikshank (Cary Grant)

The Children's Hour (1961)

Martha's Relationship with Karen Was Reported as Unnatural or "Different," and Self-Loathing Martha Committed Suicide

This film was based upon Lillian Hellman's hit Broadway play The Children's Hour - and was first filmed by William Wyler as These Three (1936). It was extremely bowdlerized due to restrictions imposed by the Hays Office. In the earlier drama of 1936, the rumor and accusation of a lesbian relationship between two teachers was changed to an illicit, though heterosexual, love affair (and romantic triangle) between one of the teachers and her colleague's fiancé. This 1961 film remake by Wyler also had to avoid the word 'lesbian.'

It told a serious story of female attraction between two headmistress-teachers at the Wright-Dobie School for Girls:

  • Karen Wright (Audrey Hepburn)
  • Martha Dobie (Shirley MacLaine)

Their 'affair' was witnessed (during eavesdropping outside their door) and reported by mean-spirited, vindictive, and manipulative 12 year-old student Mary Tilford (Karen Balkin) - the act was seen as unnatural, "bad things."

Mary's scandalous lie, to remove herself from a school where she was disliked, had devastating after-effects for the school and its administrators. It even created doubts in the mind of Dr. Joe Cardin (James Garner), Karen's fiancee who was planning on marrying her. Karen suggested to Martha that they go away somewhere to make new lives for themselves ("Let's pack and get out of here. Let's take the train tomorrow...There must be someplace we can go").

In a heart-rending, devastating, and overacted scene, self-loathing Martha realized that the child's lie had uncovered her own suppressed lesbian-tinged emotions, although she tried at first to deny them. She broke down and hysterically confessed how 'guilty' and 'sick and dirty' she felt about her love feelings toward Karen:

I've ruined your life and I have ruined my own. I swear I didn't know it! I didn't mean it! Oh, I feel so damn sick and dirty, I can't stand it anymore!

In the somber and despairing ending, she committed suicide (by hanging herself in her room - her dangling feet seen in shadowy silhouette, behind an overturned chair) when she realized that the lesbian rumors about herself were true.

(l to r): Martha and Karen

The Alleged "Affair"

Mary Tilford Watching

Distraught Reactions

Martha's Suicidal Death

Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings

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