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11 Clever Moments of Movie Foreshadowing You Might Have Missed

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While unexpected twists and surprising reveals can keep moviegoers engaged, sometimes a filmmaker can’t help him or herself from adding in a subtle moment of foreshadowing that warns of or suggests a particular plot line before it happens. Here are 11 movies that did just that.

1. PSYCHO (1960)

After Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) checks into the Bates Motel, she overhears the motel’s owner, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), get into an argument with his mother, who is emotionally abusive toward him. Nevertheless, Norman defends her when Marion suggests that their relationship might be toxic. Norman explains that his mother is “as harmless as one of those stuffed birds.” The line foreshadows the film’s twist when it is revealed that Norman killed and taxidermied his mother.

2. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)

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In the middle of the second installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) goes to the planet Dagobah to meet Master Yoda to begin his Jedi training. During his journey, he duels with a vision of Darth Vader in the Dark Side Cave. Luke strikes Vader down with his lightsaber and finds his own face behind Vader’s helmet and mask. This hints at the revelation that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father, which he learns at the end of The Empire Strikes Back.

3. BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985)

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The opening credits sequence of Back to the Future features dozens of ticking clocks in Doc Brown’s (Christopher Lloyd) laboratory. One of the clocks features actor Harold Lloyd from the silent film Safety Last! hanging from the minute hand. The clock foreshadows Doc Brown hanging from the Hill Valley clock tower, trying to harness a bolt of lightning to send Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and his DeLorean back to the 1980s. 

4. TOTAL RECALL (1990)

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Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 science fiction film Total Recall is full of clever clues that keep audiences guessing as to whether Doug Quaid’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger) adventure as a secret agent on Mars was real or merely a memory implanted into his brain. One of the biggest hints comes at the beginning of the film, when Quaid visits Rekall and one of the engineers tells him that he will experience “blue skies on Mars.” At the end of Total Recall, the Red Planet is terraformed and there is now a blue sky on Mars. 

5. RESERVOIR DOGS (1992)

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Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs follows a small group of criminals brought together to pull off a diamond heist. But when the police show up in the midst of the job, it’s clear that one of the men is an informant. The criminals are unknown to each other and are only referred to by colorful aliases (i.e. Mr. White). However, if you pay close attention to the opening scene, you can figure out that Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) is the police informant who set up the rest of the gang.

During the breakfast scene, when Joe (Lawrence Tierney) leaves the table to pay the bill, everyone contributes a dollar for the waitress’ tip—everyone except for Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), who refuses to tip based on principle. When Joe comes back to the table, he notices that the tip is short and asks who didn’t contribute. Without hesitation, Mr. Orange rats out Mr. Pink.

Additionally, when Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn) rushes to the hideout after the heist-gone-wrong, there’s an orange balloon following his car, which is a nod to the fact that Mr. Orange is after him.

6. JURASSIC PARK (1993)

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When Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), and lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) arrive to Isla Nubar for the first time, their helicopter slowly descends through a valley onto a launch pad on a lagoon. The descent is a turbulent one, so everyone buckles their seat belts. Dr. Grant finds that he has two female end buckles, but ties the straps together and manages to make it work. While the scene is meant as a comedic moment, it actually foreshadows that all the dinosaurs on the island are female, but manage to make it work and reproduce, thus “life finds a way.” 

7. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)

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When Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) arrives at Shawshank at the beginning of the movie, Warden Norton (Bob Gunton) gives all of the incoming inmates a copy of the Bible and tells them that “Salvation lies within.” Eventually, Andy escapes from prison by digging through a concrete wall for 20 years with a small rock hammer that he has kept hidden inside the Book of Exodus in the Bible. When the warden discovers the hollowed-out Bible in his personal safe, he also finds an inscription from Andy: “Dear Warden, You were right. Salvation lay within. —Andy Dufresne.”

8. THAT THING YOU DO! (1996)

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At the beginning of That Thing You Do!, Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech) and Lenny (Steve Zahn) go to Patterson’s Appliances to recruit Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) to be their new band’s drummer after their regular drummer, Chad (Giovanni Ribisi), breaks his arm. The guys are watching the TV show Fireball XL5 when Lenny remarks, “My grandma and I watched this. Three weeks, we've been watching it and last week, she realizes there’s strings. They’re puppets.” Jimmy responds with, “Yeah. They’re marionettes. That’s what they are.”

While the exchange seems like a throwaway moment, it actually hints at how Playtone Records will treat The Wonders when their song “That Thing You Do!” becomes a hit single. The band goes to California and essentially becomes puppets for the record label—appearing in a teen movie, performing on a variety show, announcing a fake marriage engagement between Jimmy and Faye (Liv Tyler), and recording a Spanish version of “That Thing You Do!” instead of Jimmy’s new original song.

Additionally, when local band manager Phil Horace (Chris Ellis) goes to Patterson’s to find the drummer of the band he saw the night before, a bus with an ad for Wonder Bread passes by the store, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to the band's name change.

9. FIGHT CLUB (1999)

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David Fincher’s Fight Club is one of the director's most popular movies because of its over-the-top style, memorable characters, and iconic twist ending. About two-thirds into the film, it is revealed that Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) is the alter ego of the Narrator (Edward Norton) and that they are, in fact, the same character. While there are a number of visual cues that foreshadow this revelation, including single frames of Tyler Durden spliced into the film before he’s properly introduced, there’s one very clever moment where the Narrator beats himself in an attempt to blackmail his boss. The Narrator says, “For some reason I thought of my first fight … with Tyler.”

10. SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)

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After Liz (Kate Ashfield) breaks up with Shaun (Simon Pegg), he drinks his sorrows away with his friend Ed (Nick Frost) at the Winchester Tavern. To cheer him up, Ed plans a fun-filled day of drinking the next day, which includes, “Bloody Mary first thing, bite at The Kings Head, couple at The Little Princess, stagger back here, back at the bar for shots.” Co-writers Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright actually reveal Shaun of the Dead’s entire plot with Ed’s plan: The first zombie Shaun and Ed encounter is wearing a nametag that says “Mary,” then a zombie bites the neck of Shaun’s stepfather, the king of his family. Shaun later saves a couple, Dave (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy Davis), and his princess, Liz. The group then stumbles their way through a zombie herd to get back to the Winchester, where they shoot at the living dead.

There’s another moment of clever foreshadowing at the beginning when Shaun’s roommate screams at Ed, “You wanna live like an animal?! Go live in the shed.” At the the end of the movie, we see a zombified Ed chained up like an animal living in the shed in Shaun’s backyard.

11. THE AVENGERS (2012)

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When the superheroes assemble on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s helicarrier for the first time, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) makes an offhanded remark about one of the ship’s engineers playing the classic arcade game Galaga. The objective of the video game is to defend Earth from invading aliens as they descend on the planet, which is exactly what The Avengers have to do during the Battle of New York with the Chitauri aliens in the film’s climax.

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How to Make Miles Davis’s Famous Chili Recipe
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STF/AFP/Getty Images

Miles Davis, who was born on May 26, 1926, was one of the most important and influential musicians of the 20th century, and changed the course of jazz music more times in his life than some people change their sheets. He was also pretty handy in the kitchen.

In his autobiography, Miles, Davis wrote that in the early 1960s, “I had gotten into cooking. I just loved food and hated going out to restaurants all the time, so I taught myself how to cook by reading books and practicing, just like you do on an instrument. I could cook most of the great French dishes—because I really liked French cooking—and all the black American dishes. But my favorite was a chili dish I called Miles's South Side Chicago Chili Mack. I served it with spaghetti, grated cheese, and oyster crackers."

Davis didn’t divulge what was in the dish or how to make it, but in 2007, Best Life magazine got the recipe from his first wife, Frances, who Davis said made it better than he did.

MILES'S SOUTH SIDE CHICAGO CHILIK MACK (SERVES 6)

1/4 lb. suet (beef fat)
1 large onion
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground veal
1/2 lb. ground pork
salt and pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin seed
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 can beef consommé
1 drop red wine vinegar
3 lb. spaghetti
parmesan cheese
oyster crackers
Heineken beer

1. Melt suet in large heavy pot until liquid fat is about an inch high. Remove solid pieces of suet from pot and discard.
2. In same pot, sauté onion.
3. Combine meats in bowl; season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin.
4. In another bowl, season kidney beans with salt and pepper.
5. Add meat to onions; sauté until brown.
6. Add kidney beans, consommé, and vinegar; simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
7. Add more seasonings to taste, if desired.
8. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, and then divide among six plates.
9. Spoon meat mixture over each plate of spaghetti.
10. Top with Parmesan and serve oyster crackers on the side.
11. Open a Heineken.

John Szwed’s biography of Davis, So What, mentions another chili that the trumpeter’s father taught him how to make. The book includes the ingredients, but no instructions, save for serving it over pasta. Like a jazz musician, you’ll have to improvise. 

bacon grease
3 large cloves of garlic
1 green, 1 red pepper
2 pounds ground lean chuck
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 jar of mustard
1/2 shot glass of vinegar
2 teaspoons of chili powder
dashes of salt and pepper
pinto or kidney beans
1 can of tomatoes
1 can of beef broth

serve over linguine

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4 Fascinating Facts About John Wayne
Fox Photos, Getty Images
Fox Photos, Getty Images

Most people know John Wayne, who would have been 111 years old today, for his cowboy persona. But there was much more to the Duke than that famous swagger. Here are a few facts about Duke that might surprise you.

1. A BODY SURFING ACCIDENT CHANGED HIS CAREER. 

John Wayne, surfer? Yep—and if he hadn’t spent a lot of time doing it, he may never have become the legend he did. Like many USC students, Wayne (then known as Marion Morrison) spent a good deal of his extracurricular time in the ocean. After he sustained a serious shoulder injury while bodysurfing, Morrison lost his place on the football team. He also lost the football scholarship that had landed him a spot at USC in the first place. Unable to pay his fraternity for room and board, Morrison quit school and, with the help of his former football coach, found a job as the prop guy at Fox Studios in 1927. It didn’t take long for someone to realize that Morrison belonged in front of a camera; he had his first leading role in The Big Trail in 1930.

2. HE TOOK HIS NICKNAME FROM HIS BELOVED FAMILY POOCH. 

Marion Morrison had never been fond of his feminine-sounding name. He was often given a hard time about it growing up, so to combat that, he gave himself a nickname: Duke. It was his dog’s name. Morrison was so fond of his family’s Airedale Terrier when he was younger that the family took to calling the dog “Big Duke” and Marion “Little Duke,” which he quite liked. But when he was starting his Hollywood career, movie execs decided that “Duke Morrison” sounded like a stuntman, not a leading man. The head of Fox Studios was a fan of Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne, so Morrison’s new surname was quickly settled. After testing out various first names for compatibility, the group decided that “John” had a nice symmetry to it, and so John Wayne was born. Still, the man himself always preferred his original nickname. “The guy you see on the screen isn’t really me,” he once said. “I’m Duke Morrison, and I never was and never will be a film personality like John Wayne.”

3. HE WAS A CHESS FANATIC. 

Anyone who knew John Wayne personally knew what an avid chess player he was. He often brought a miniature board with him so he could play between scenes on set.

When Wayne accompanied his third wife, Pilar Pallete, while she played in amateur tennis tournaments, officials would stock a trailer with booze and a chess set for him. The star would hang a sign outside of the trailer that said, “Do you want to play chess with John Wayne?” and then happily spend the day drinking and trouncing his fans—for Wayne wasn’t just a fan of chess, he was good at chess. It’s said that Jimmy Grant, Wayne’s favorite screenwriter, played chess with the Duke for more than 20 years without ever winning a single match.

Other famous chess partners included Marlene Dietrich, Rock Hudson, and Robert Mitchum. During their match, Mitchum reportedly caught him cheating. Wayne's reply: "I was wondering when you were going to say something. Set 'em up, we'll play again."

4. HE COINED THE TERM "THE BIG C."

If you say you know someone battling “The Big C” these days, everyone immediately knows what you’re referring to. But no one called it that before Wayne came up with the term, evidently trying to make it less scary. Worried that Hollywood would stop hiring him if they knew how sick he was with lung cancer in the early 1960s, Wayne called a press conference in his living room shortly after an operation that removed a rib and half of one lung. “They told me to withhold my cancer operation from the public because it would hurt my image,” he told reporters. “Isn’t there a good image in John Wayne beating cancer? Sure, I licked the Big C.”

Wayne's daughter, Aissa Wayne, later said that the 1964 press conference was the one and only time she heard her father call it “cancer,” even when he developed cancer again, this time in his stomach, 15 years later. Sadly, Wayne lost his second battle with the Big C and died on June 11, 1979 at the age of 72.

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