Hollywood murder mysteries are rarely open-and-shut cases. Clues point to false leads, motives don’t makes sense, and occasionally the victim is not even really dead. And as the best whodunits show, the proverbial smoking gun is never an easy find. But key evidence always has a way of turning up at the last possible minute, prompting shocking revelations, unveiling lies, and entertaining the hell out of everyone. Here are some of the most startling evidential finales to hit the big screen. (Alert: spoilers below!)
Libby (Ashley Judd) is convicted of murdering her husband during a weekend sailing trip, although his body is never found. Libby begins to suspect that her husband staged his death to frame her. Once paroled, she finds an article with a photo revealing his new name and location. Libby can now clear her name — and thanks to the handy Fifth Amendment clause that states you can’t be tried twice for the same crime, she’s free to kill the bastard with impunity. Bonus!
The General’s Daughter
A female officer is raped and murdered on a U.S. Army base, leading warrant officer Paul Brenner (John Travolta) to uncover a sordid tale of military-school abuse and high-level cover-ups. Finally, a psychiatrist violates professional ethics to reveal that — get this — the dead woman was trying to overcome lingering trauma over an incident that happened to her years ago by re-creating that crime. Unfortunately, this re-creation led to her death.
Slick defense attorney Martin Vail (Richard Gere) takes on the case of stuttering altar boy Aaron (Edward Norton) — accused of slaughtering a beloved archbishop. Vail gets his client remanded to a mental hospital after revealing gentle Aaron’s murderous alter ego, Roy, in court. But Aaron later confesses: he’s not a shy altar boy who was occasionally possessed by a sociopathic killer. He’s a sociopathic killer who sometimes pretended to be a shy altar boy.
Though married lawyer Rusty (Harrison Ford) was cheating with his
colleague Carolyn (Greta Scacchi), he swears he didn’t rape and kill her. Yet circumstantial evidence indicates that
he did. It’s a roller-coaster ride as far as Rusty’s innocence goes — right to the end, when Rusty opens his toolbox, revealing the murder weapon: a tiny hatchet smeared with Carolyn’s blood and hair. Turns out Rusty’s wife did it.
Everything suggests that Jack (Jeff Bridges) — client of lawyer Teddy (Glenn Close) — killed his wife. Then a series of anonymous notes leads to his acquittal. Great news for Jack and Teddy, who can continue the affair that
began mid-trial. But, alas, the postcoital bliss is cut short when Teddy stumbles across Jack’s old typewriter, an exact replica of the one used to type those
anonymous notes. Looks like the new boyfriend is a homicidal maniac. Bummer.
Anatomy of a Murder
There’s no doubt about the killer’s identity in Otto Preminger’s thriller with James Stewart as a defense attorney. Hot-tempered Manion (Ben Gazzara) admits from the start that he
murdered local innkeeper Barney Quill for raping his wife, Laura (Lee
Remick). But it’s not until a pair of panties miraculously surface — which Laura claimed Quill ripped off her during the attack — that the jury finally buys Manion’s defense.
Witness for the Prosecution
Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power) is accused of murder. His lawyer (Charles Laughton) won’t let his wife, Christine (Marlene Dietrich), provide an alibi because the jury will think she’s lying. But when the Vole marriage is proved invalid, Christine is forced to admit that Leonard confessed his guilt to her. But wait! Love letters emerge from Christine to another man, casting so much doubt on her honesty that Leonard is acquitted. But wait again! The love letters were forged by Christine to discredit her own testimony. Leonard goes free. Brilliant move, Christine. Too bad your husband’s ready to skip town with another dame.
Looking for a good crime pic? Check out The Italian Job on Fri., Nov. 28, at 5:30PM | 4:30C.Read More