When talking about movie reveals several things may come to mind. Therefore I feel the need to clarify what this week’s Phenomenal 5 is all about. This list isn’t specifically about plot twists although they certainly apply to each of my choices. Instead I’m looking at movie reveals that are strictly between movie characters. Great scenes where one character’s revelation directly impacts another. It may or may not be a revelation to the audience but it certainly is to someone in the film. Now when talking about something like this it should be obvious that there will be SPOILERS so if you haven’t seen the movie you may want to skip its caption. So many reveals came to mind therefore I wouldn’t call this the definitive list. But I believe that these five mentioned are certainly phenomenal!
#5 – “THE USUAL SUSPECTS”
“The Usual Suspects” is built upon the interrogation of the feeble and handicapped “Verbal” Kint (Kevin Spacey) by FBI Agent Kujan (Chazz Palminteri). Verbal is one of only two survivors of a fiery massacre on a ship docked in Los Angeles. Verbal weaves together a story of how he and his smalltime criminal buddies were hired and exploited by an almost mythical crime boss named Keyser Söze. Agent Kujan lets Verbal go knowing that Söze is the real culprit. But while sitting in the interrogation office he quickly learns that Verbal’s story was manufactured and he runs out after him. But Verbal is heading down the sidewalk, his faked limp now gone, and hops into an awaiting car. Verbal is none other than Keyser Söze!
#4 – “PSYCHO”
When Lila and Sam stop by the Bates Motel in search of her missing sister Marion, I think it’s safe to say they get more than they bargained for. Clues inform them that her sister had been there but the motel proprietor Norman Bates suspiciously blows it off. They begin to investigate. They examine the motel an eventually the old house overlooking it. It’s in that house where the creepy Norman claims to live with his mother. But all true cinema lovers know what they find there. Norman’s mother is a corpse. In fact it’s Norman Bates who dresses as his mother and attacks Lila. He’s the true psychotic killer. This was a great reveal which became one of the most iconic angles in the horror genre.
#3 – “GLADIATOR”
The reveal in Ridley Scott’s brilliant Best Picture winning “Gladiator” wasn’t anything that stunned audiences. We knew this bit of information all along. But it certainly stunned the socks off of the twisted self-crowned Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Thinking he had his chief rival to his father’s throne killed years earlier, Commodus hadn’t a care in the world as he waltzed out onto the Coliseum’s battleground to meet the unknown gladiator who had won the adoration of the bloodthirsty Roman crowd. Oh but this gladiator has a name and when he removes his helmet and reveals himself to be Maximus Decimus Meridius, the man who was long thought dead by the emperor, well lets just say Commodus almost lost his lunch. It’s a great reveal, not to the audience but to Commodus. It’s also one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite films.
#2 – “THE THIRD MAN”
I absolutely love “The Third Man” and this isn’t its first appearance in a Phenomenal 5. But it is absolutely perfect for this particular list. This classic 1949 film noir follows Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten), an American writer who arrives in post-war Vienna in search of his friend Harry Lime. Harry has offered him a job but upon arrival Holly learns that his friend had just been killed in an accident. Holly demands that Lime’s death be investigated. His persistence ends up revealing the shady and criminal dealings of his friend. But that’s not the big reveal. You see, Harry Lime isn’t dead. The great Orson Welles plays Lime and once he is revealed the tension amps up. It’s a fantastic reveal which sets up one of my favorite movie endings. What a great film.
#1 – “THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK”
Let’s be honest, what else could it be? When you talk about great movie reveals “The Empire Strikes Back” automatically comes to mind. Whether you’re a fan of the Star Wars franchise or not, chances are you’re familiar with the mind blowing revelation between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. Up to that point in the franchise the villainy of Darth Vader had been well established. Our hero Luke had watched him kill Obi-wan and now he was face to face with the monster. But instead of killing Luke, Vader tries to win him over to the dark side. In the process he reveals to Luke something that shocked audiences worldwide. “I am your father”. I still remember hearing that as a kid sitting in the theater. It was one of the first movie moments that blew my mind and for me it’s the best movie reveal of all time.
So there are my five phenomenal movie reveals. What are your thoughts on it? See a pick you agree or disagree with? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please take time and share them in the comments section below.
Yeah, The Empire Strikes Back just has to be #1. In fact, that reveal is so iconic it seems to come to define the term. It’s a little awkward suggesting one of my favorite reveals (if I can think of one even) because I don’t want to potentially spoil a film for someone, so I’ll keep quiet. 🙂
I understand. I had to put a spoiler warning on this one simply because there’s no way to talk about without spoiling something.
Outstanding list my friend! Just to add a preference, I’d put Seven on the list…”what’s in the box?!”
I thought a lot about Se7en. It would fit for sure. It’s definitely change the relationship between a couple of characters didn’t it? 😉
I was also thinking Se7en… glad I read the comments before posting!
Love a good reveal 😀
Same here. Some can be pretty lame but a good one can really make a movie.
Great list Keith and I had a feeling Empire might be number one! I kinda also thought The Sixth Sense on there. I reckon that’d class as a reveal.
That’s another one I thought about. The only reason I didn’t include it is because it didn’t really involve a direct reaction between characters. In other words it wasn’t something revealed from one character to another like the others on the list. It was a reveal to us and it certainly qualifies. I was just shooting in a little bit different direction.
The Crying Game is one that is forever burned into my memory! Good list.
Thanks man. Do you know that I’ve never seen The Crying Game. Shame on me.
Damn, didn’t know about that twist in Empire Strikes Back, this changes everything!
LOL! Spoiler warning!!!!
A good reveal is fantastic when handled well and you’ve listed some great ones here Keith. LOVE Gladiator and that’s one of my fave scenes, Joaquin’s expression when he found out is priceless. Haven’t seen The Third Man yet so I skipped reading that one.
Thanks Ruth! The Gladiator one HAD to make my list. That’s a tremendous scene. Talk about an “Oh #@$%” moment!
Oh, and please check out The Third Man! It’s a gem!
Can’t forget The Sixth Sense.
It and Seven are both good reveals. Sixth Sense didn’t exactly fit what I was shooting for but it’s an awesome reveal.
Great list. The Third Man’s my favorite, I knew the reveal beforehand but it consistently amazes me.
Thank you. Glad you share my love for that film. It’s a great reveal and I have the same reaction as you do every time I see it.
Great list, and they’re all great reveals. I agree with Empire being #1, since it’s just become so iconic, but all of them are definitely worthy.
I like that you included Gladiator, since “reveals to the characters” are sometimes the best moments in films. One of my favorites is in the Jim Caviziel version of The Count of Monte Cristo: “Kings to you, Fernand.” Right at that moment, you can see it on Fernand’s face that he finally gets it; he knows who’s been messing with him, he knows why, and he knows he is truly, utterly, screwed.
Thanks for the comments. My wife has been on me to watch “Count”. I really, really need to!
Great list Keith. Couldn’t argue with it really but The Usual Suspects would be my #1. I also love the reveal in Memento, although it was a lot more subtly handled.
Thanks my friend. I really tried to make it a reveal between two characters on screen. Considering that there were numerous reveals that I absolutely love but that didn’t quite qualify. I don’t think I set it up very well.
Usual Suspects is really great isn’t it? Haven’t revisited it in a while.
The Usual Suspects is just class. I haven’t seen it myself for a long time. A revisit is definitely on the cards.
It had to be Empire in first place! But great choices all around Keith!
Thanks man. The Empire reveal is certainly iconic, right?
It most certainly is! I don’t remember my first reaction to it as I was too young, but I wish that I could.
First one I thought of was Harry Lime, so nice to see him at #2. Great list, Keith!
Thanks man! It’s a true favorite of mine!
Bit sad that Fight Club doesn’t rate a mention…. I am Tyler Durden, anyone?
That’s definitely a popular reveal. It’s funny, that’s a really popular film that I just don’t care for.
Awesome idea for a post! Usual Suspects reveal is so brilliantly executed. One of my favorites, even though I do find the movie as a whole kinda overrated. Psycho reveal is just so chilling! My favorite reveal is Fight Club – I didn’t see this one coming at all and my jaw simply dropped.
I think I’m one of the world’s only people who isn’t a big fan of Fight Club. I know it has a huge following but I’ve never been that impressed with it. Regardless of that, the reveal is pretty mind blowing isn’t it?
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