Hidden Film Moments That Only True Fans NoticedBy John P.
Everyone thinks they are movie buffs, these days. But the truth is, it’s hard to catch every quick-shot cinematic secret! For directors, it can be a quiet thrill to reference previous work in new projects. Others like to sneak in pop-culture favorites or metaphors. So almost every iconic movie has its little-known secrets that only true fans really aware of. And this is where we come in – to make those secrets public knowledge for all of us to enjoy.
It’s time to unveil the obscure, the wild, and the wacky hidden in plain sight! So gear up and get ready to explore Hollywood’s secrets.
Tron — Pac-Man’s Appearances
The original was legendary, but the update was CGI-tastic! In 2010, Tron: Legacy appeared in theaters with a whole new story and feel. The sci-fci adventure would not be complete without at least one throwback to the old days, of course. What was it?
Look closely: It was Pac-man on the videogame map! The nostaligia was off the charts, alluding to a moment from the 1982 film. When the light cycles left the game grid, the yellow chomper also made a cameo on Sark’s control screen.
Star Wars — The Mysterious THX 1138
The Star Wars saga is full of George Lucas quirks, Jedi historians know well. But even the most die-hard fans could have missed one interesting detail that has a big story worth telling. THX 1138, a repeating code seen throughout the series, is not gibberish. What is it actually all about?
Sleuths out there have found the source: It’s from an early Lucas film! THX 1138 was actually his first feature-length movie, and he likes to pay homage to it just about everywhere. From cell block THX 1138 to the designation of Naboo droids, the director snuck it in over and over again. George, you prankster!
Captain America: The Winter Soldier — Pulp Fiction References
The Marvel Universe is full of references to the original comic books. But in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there was a strange hat tip to a movie completely outside the franchise. Hint: It honored Quentin Tarantino, and one of the biggest films of the 1990’s!
Pulp Fiction / Captain America: The Winter Soldier
In the movie, Nick Fury turns out to be alive and well after surviving the winter soldier. He looks at his own grave and reads aloud the gravestone quote. “The Path of the righteous man” is the inscription. That happens to be what Sam Jackson said in Pulp Fiction!
Passengers — Deja Vu Bar Lounge
Stanley Kubrick is the man behind The Shining, a 1980 drama horror flick. Morten Tyldum directed the Sci-Fi thriller Passengers, in 2016. Although these movies were from totally different genres, critics explained there were some visual similarities. What was the biggest connection?
Passengers / The Shining
It wasn’t the writing. The storylines were unique! But Eagle-eyed fans couldn’t help but notice the bar scene was pretty familiar. From the bartender’s outfit and attitude to the design and decor of the room itself, Passengers was clearly trying to shout out The Shining. Its undeniable!
Star Wars Episode 1 — E.T. Pops By
Sure, many strive to be experts on the Star Wars universe. There is plenty of trivia out there to go around! But Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace has a reference many may not have noticed. In between all the space ships and lazers, there is a council meeting about the future of the galaxy. Who attended?
Pause the scene and look at the pods: E.T. the Extra Terrestrial and his cousins are in the film! Behind the scenes, director Spielberg called pal George Lucas to include the character. Geroge decided to include the whole species!
Psycho — The Skull Scene
Psycho is a horror classic, everyone agrees. Moviegoers watched innocent characters enter the Bates Motel, and things never seemed to go well for them! Meeting Norman Bates meant an untimely death. But besides the gratuitous violence, what else can viewers notice in the final scene?
Special effects used in this 1960’s film were pretty cool, for their time. But it requires knowledge about exactly when to pause: At the end, when Bates looks into the camera, there is a creepy surprise. A layer of skeleton skull on his face says so much!
Signs — Secret Alien Sightings
The Sixth Sense was the film that shot M. Night Shyamalan to A-list status, in the director world. His follow-up films were also pretty freaky! In 2002, he made Signs. While viewers were probably distracted by the cornfield clues, M. Night decided to leave his own little signs throughout the film. What did he do?
The truth is, aliens really didn’t get their time in the movie. Mel and Joaquin sure did! Over an 1 hour and 47 minutes, the outer space characters got about a minute and a half of clear screen time. With a remote control, though, pausing at the right moments in the beginning of the story reveals them early: For about 11 seconds, there are plenty of quick sightings!
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective — Fruit Foreshadowing
Classic 90’s Jim Carrey surely includes Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. A performance that escaped the attention of the Oscar committee, Ace is still a cult classic. But even the most committed fans may have missed a hint about detective Lois Einhorn, early on. Look at the fruit bowl now, and it all adds up!
Morgan Creek Entertainment
As it turned out much later, the head of the Miami Police Department was secretly ex-football star Ray Finkle. In his revenge plot on Dan Marino, he became a woman and kidnapped the dolphin mascot. Long story, really. But if only Ace had noticed that strategically placed banana, things might have been solved sooner!
Toy Story 3 — Sid Grows Up
Disney and Pixar got a little sneaky with Toy Story 3. There’s a very subtle reference to the time that has passed in the animated universe they inhabit. Viewers likely remember that Sid Phillips as the young, terrifying antagonist in the original Toy Story. According to Rex the dino toy: “He tortures toys, just for fun!”
Pixar Animation Studios
In the third installment, look closely at the garbage man. He is wearing the same skull t-shirt as the kid! That’s because it’s one and the same person. Sid the bully now picks up the trash from Andy’s house!
Deadpool 2 — Matt Damon Appears
Deadpool was all about mutants, time-traveling, and action. what’s not to love? Audiences clearly liked the combination, and that lead to a sequel. All the usual elements were there again, but there was a surprise cameo most probably missed. Look closely, and there’s someone pretty famous in disguise!
An unbelievable makeup job was done on none other than Matt Damon. Behind the scenes, a bodysuit, fake beard, and prosthetics were combined to hide him in plain view. He was “Redneck #2,” and a lot of people may have missed him!
Fight Club — A Flash-Frame of Reality
Anyone seeing Fight Club for the first time remembers a truly shocking ending. But along the way, jump cuts and a very edgy style of editing helped to build the tension for the final scene! The psychological thriller had a few more tricks that only make sense on the second watch. What did director David Fincher throw in?
Sure, fans think they didn’t see the truth about Tyler Durden until the end of the story. But that’s not true! There was subliminal foreshadowing in the opening scene with jump-cut edits. He also popped in during the testicular cancer support group meeting, in the office, and a few other places. There he was, for anyone with a trigger finger on the pause button!
Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Hieroglyphs
The very first Indiana Jones movie was made by none other than George Lucas. The creator of Star Wars did have other projects. And he made sure to let fans know they were connected, if only subtly. Look at the hieroglyphics on the wall during the Ark of the Covenant, scene!
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Harrison Ford happens to be in both movies, too. Did he see that R2 D2 and C3PO are in the movie as ancient writing? Star Wars was set a long time ago, but no one ever knew quite when that was. Maybe this is a real clue!
The Godfather — Oranges Everywhere
One of the oldest visual metaphors out there in film is the orange. It foreshadows death! When legendary director Francis Ford Coppola decided to start The Godfather trilogy, he knew he wanted to include this special citrus, at least a few times.
Maybe it was easy to write off as scenery, the first time around. But a rewatch reveals a pattern. Whenever there are oranges, someone’s about to go. From Vito Corleone to Sonny, there is a bright hint in the dark scenery. The director knew this would work figuratively and literally!
Tarzan — Mrs. Potts at Teatime
The late ’90s brought audiences Tarzan as an animated story. Phil Collins did the soundtrack, and it might be remembered for that more than anything. “You’ll be in my heart, no matter what they say”, he explained. Looking back with fresh eyes, is there anything viewers missed the first time around?
Walt Disney Pictures
While the story may have taken place in an African jungle, it’s still in the Disney universe. As a result, Mrs. Potts and Chip from Beauty and the Beast returned to the table. It’s hard to miss, even for casual viewers!
Jurassic Park — Denis Dressed as a Goonie
Jurassic Park was full of dinosaurs, if nothing else. But only those who have seen it over and over might have noticed a reference to another movie, behind the teeth and claws. What did Steven Spielberg sneak in, way back in the early 90’s?
Jurassic Park / The Goonies
Obviously, he was a fan of The Goonies. Who isn’t? Watching the character Denis Nedry reveals some familiar clothing designs. Contrast scenes side by side, and it’s hard to miss: A few times, he is clearly dressed like characters from the 80’s kids flick! Who wore it better?
Man of Steel — Batman’s Extra Satellite
Man of Steel was a big success at the box office for Warner Bros, back in 2013. It led the studio to make a string of additional superhero flicks in the following years, due to the applause Superman received. But maybe fans also enjoyed seeing worlds collide when fighting characters hit a satellite. What was written, in outer space?
Man of Steel
Pause the movie and check out the extraterrestrial logo next time. It clearly says “Wayne Enterprises”, which Batman fans are pretty familiar with from the other franchise. Bruce Wayne says hello, from space!
Alfred Hitchcock — Creepy Repeat Cameos
Known as a pioneer of the horror genre, director Alfred Hitchcock never did things the typical way. He wouldn’t have become a legend, that way! Fans who followed his work for years started to notice a pattern in his films, and it involved cameos. Who kept popping into all his stories?
Wikimedia Commons / Dr. Macro / The Birds
It was actually Hitchcock himself, fans! He made short appearances in 39 of 52 films, a movie record. For example, viewers may remember a man leaving the pet shop with two little dogs in The Birds. Spoiler: That was him, and real pets!
Hercules — The Lion King Cape
There’s nothing like rediscovering a classic, is there? The Lion King is a 90’s Disney masterpiece. Fewer people would cite Hercules as their favorite from the period, but it held its own. Did kids notice that the animators decided to connect them back in the day?
Sure, the story took place in ancient Greece. But that’s not necessarily too far away from Pride Rock. There was trade back then, and people loved their fur! Look at the scene when Hercules posed for a classic sculpture. He is wearing Scar, from the other story!
Back to the Future — Butterfly Effect Sign
In Back to the Future, Marty McFly travels to the past on a mission. He wants to save Doc Brown, the quirky creator of the film’s DeLorean time machine. A noble goal, everyone agreed. But things didn’t go smoothly, at first. Where does he end up?
Back to the Future
At first, he starts at “Twin Pines Mall” at 1:16 am. But later in the film, he shows up at “Lone Pines Mall” at 1:34 am. Maybe that’s because Marty actually knocked over on the trees on his way out of the ranch. Was it the butterfly effect, perhaps? The director sure didn’t miss a chance to point out the sensitivity of time travel!
Jurassic World — Jimmy Buffet and Margaritaville
From Parks and Recreations to recreation in a deadly dinosaur park, fans loved seeing funnyman Chris Pratt star in the new installation. But no blockbuster classic sequel would be complete without a cameo from one man: Jimmy Buffet! What was he doing, in this story?
Look closely during the scene when tourists are running away from dinos while dining. The mayhem might be distracting, but Jimmy is hiding in plain sight. He runs away with two margaritas in hand. Even with raptors descending on the place, no one should be surprised this famous day drinker didn’t leave those behind!
Fight Club — Starbucks Galore
There is much to say about the social message behind the mayhem in Fight Club. And certainly, many college papers have been written on the subject, over the years! Fans may have noticed that there was one reoccurring symbol in scene after scene. What was it, and why was it there?
Look closely, and a Starbucks cup is very visible just about everywhere in the movie. Director David Fincher didn’t do this by accident, of course. Critics who viewed the movie as a statement about consumer culture didn’t miss them!
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy — Bilingual Jokes
Will Ferrell rose to fame playing hundreds and hundreds of characters on SNL. When he decided to try his own hand at writing scripts, his movie career quickly became prolific. Fans went wild for Anchorman — The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Beyond the laughs, were there any screen secrets Will snuck in?
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Many may now Will as a cowbell expert. But how many know his Spanish is also quite good? The man has many talents, ¡Que cómico! He decided to break out his language skills for comedy, this time. In the scene at a Mexican restaurant, check out the name. It’s called “Escupimos en su Alimento”, which means “We Spit in Your Food”!
Pinnochio — Micky Mouse Sneaks in
Disney animators are notorious for sneaking in things during the drawing process. Rumors online hint at naughty imagery, in most cases. It’s amusing to find those, looking back on childhood favorites. But what about the constant hidden Mickey Mouses? They’re real, and they’re everywhere!
Walt Disney Animation Studios
In Pinnochio, Mickey is clearly the design on the back of the chair. As the original classic, he’s still going strong! The iconic character has popped into Disney projects ever since, always somewhere in the background. From The Emperor’s New Groove to Tron and everything in between, the mouse is always in the house!
Teen Wolf — The Story of the Unzipped Fly
The best and worst of high school usually involves silly pranks and practical jokes. In Teen Wolf, fictional classmates dealt with a werewolf on the loose. But it runs out that something else was on the loose, in real life: Check out the auditorium scene for a very unzipped fly, captured on film!
If viewers think it’s just one layer of wardrobe malfunction, they would be wrong. Looking closely at the extra in the stands, there is an underwear problem, too! Total exposure on film rarely happens by accident. It probably wasn’t, was it?
The Departed — The X
The Departed was a welcome hit with fans who loved mafia movies, Italian or otherwise. Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson were positively evil, in their Boston way. Plenty of character s had to die, to make it a complete story. But although fans were probably surprised by the twists and turns throughout the movie, they didn’t have to be. Were there any clues, along the way?
Like the oranges in The Godfather series, director Martin Scorcese decided to sneak in some signs. He placed an X somewhere in each shot before his characters got whacked. Look now, and it’s hard to deny!
Catch Me If You Can — Frank Abagnale Cameo
Anyone who saw Catch Me If You Can remembers the slick character Frank Abagnale. The star of the story is actually based on a real man, and fans might be intrigued to learn that the older Frank made an appearance in the film. Yes, really!
Leonardo DiCaprio might be a bit distracting, but a close look in the arrest scene reveals the cameo. The French policeman who apprehends fictional Frank is Frank himself! In real life, the reformed trickster is a now consultant for white-collar scams. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, isn’t it?
The Wizard of Oz — Bird in the Background
CGI and special effects are no big deal, these days. But there were movies before the digital age, and audiences regularly went to other magical realities in the theater. Achieving wild illusion required a lot of props and people to do the trick. The Wizard of Oz was no exception!
The Wizard of Oz
While characters sing “follow the yellow brick road” to the Wizard’s lair, there is a bird-like shadow in the background. Only years later was the truth revealed and edited out: A dwarf extra on set died! They originally left it in the film, hoping no one would notice. Yikes, right?
Before I Go to Sleep — Naked Nicole
Anyone in the industry knows there are all sorts of hidden tricks that go on behind-the-scenes. Sure, viewers might think an actor is nude. But there are all kinds of props that allowed actors to avoid taking the full plunge unless they really want to. What was the truth about Nicole Kidman, in Before I Go to Sleep?
Before I Go to Sleep
Well, fans may have paused over and over to see if it was really their favorite actress in bare skin. The answer is mixed: Some parts yes, some parts no. For whatever reason, Nicole hired a butt double!
Bohemian Rhapsody — Hello, Adam Lambert
Bohemian Rhapsody was the 2018 biopic of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Played by Rami Malek, fans really got into his world for an hour and a half. But distracted by all the drama, they may have missed one big cameo in the middle of the movie. Who popped in, at the truck stop?
Interestingly, it was singer Adam Lambert. He played a truck driver near the men’s room that caught Freddie’s attention. With a hat and beard, the disguise probably fooled most people. But real band fans know that Adam tours as the lead singer with the group in real life now, and they noticed the connection!
The Matrix — A Reel Reveal
In The Matrix, plenty of unique camera angles were used to tell the story. After all, viewers needed to see they were entering another dimension! Reflection shots offer a lot of creative perspective, but they have the potential to go very wrong. One oopsie happened during the making of this movie, in fact!
When Morpheus tells Neo, “I can only show you to the door,” there is a clear shot of the knob. Look closely: The camera can be seen behind them! Perhaps the directors hoped viewers wouldn’t notice. Or maybe they didn’t? Questions need answers, Wachowski Brothers!
Jaws — Opening Secret
The original theme song still haunts the dreams of anyone and everyone who saw Jaws. Something about it was terrifying, and the movie visuals really matched the music! In the opening scene, a swimmer was eaten. How did they achieve this effect, before CGI?
While the original plan was to show the shark, director Steven Spielberg decided a little mystery would be even freakier. A cable was attached to the legs of the actress, and she was shaken violently in the water! Filming from below captured the attack effect, from the point of view of the beast. Not so high tech, but it was exactly what the audience didn’t know they wanted. Or needed!
Titanic — A Hidden Artist
For whatever reason, the nation went wild when 1997’s Titanic was released on the big screen. Was it the romance between Jack and Rose? Or was it just a fascination with a very, very big boat? Whatever the case, viewers all agreed on one thing: That spicy sketch scene was everything!
But nothing appears out of nowhere. someone had to actually draw the real thing as a prop. Was it Leo, between takes? Was it some sort of professionally commissioned piece? No, it was actually the director himself, James Cameron. Who knew he had so many talents?
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial — Iconic Imagery
Aliens have never been so adorable! At this point, it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t seen this 1982 Steven Spielberg classic. The film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is probably most widely recognizable from one scene, nowadays. It’s the bike ride over the moon between boy and alien, no doubt!
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Sure, it was iconic. But how many people know how much the director agreed with that fan sentiment? Steven actually made this the trademark image for his production company. In Bungalow 477 at Universal Studios, “Amblin Entertainment” still uses it to this day!
Pulp Fiction — Bruce, Au Natural
Quentin Tarantino has plenty of fans, and they love to argue about his very best film. Some say it was Kill Bill. Others think that Inglorious Basterds was the real masterpiece. But Pulp Fiction lovers really feel that this was the movie that started it all! Maybe it was the shower scene that caught their attention?
There were plenty of edgy moments that made the movie iconic, and nude Bruce had to be a big one. At first, viewers thought they saw it all. Ladies and gents paused to see if they could catch a glimpse of his bits, but were disappointed. Expert hand-eye coordination made sure the towel never strayed too far!
Three Men and a Baby — Cardboard Cameo
Cameo appearances happen more often than people realize. In Three Men and a Baby, Tom Selleck, Ted Danson, and Steve Guttenberg made classic 80’s audiences laugh in their seats. Did anyone notice which actor made a cameo in their own movie, out of the three?
Three Men and a Baby
Oddly enough, character Jack is joined by a duplicate of himself in several scenes. Double Ted was achieved by hiding a lifesized cardboard cutout of the actor when Jack’s mother comes by, as well as when Mary’s mother pops in. Pause and check out Ted Danson in a tuxedo from an old commercial – how funny!
Scanners — Violence Cut
1981 brought terrified audiences Scanners. The horror Sci-Fi thriller was filled with all kinds of gory, quick scenes. Some people probably found it too harsh to watch without pausing! The truth is, not every shot made it into the final cut. What was excluded, and why?
For the real Scanners buffs out there, there are a few production stills worth checking out of the final fight between Revok and Cameron. There’s an exploding head shooting sparks, the director cut it from the final product. Maybe that was for the best, in an already intense movie!
The Dark Knight — The Personalized Badge
In The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger gave a horrifying performance. And that was the beauty of it! It was probably easy to miss subtitles during his hypnotizing scenes, like the nametag he was wearing at the hospital. What does it say, and what does it really mean?
Warner Bros. Pictures
The Joker was actually sporting the name of Heath’s real daughter, Matilda. During the filming, she was just a toddler. These days, Matty is a teen. and probably old enough to see her dad’s scary character. Mama Michelle Williams can share other movie secrets with her, too!
Frozen — Arrested Development Throwback
In Frozen, most young viewers were probably impressed by the songs. Adults loved to sing “Let it Go” too, but they probably had a few secret laughs all on their own. It’s obvious that the writers were fans of Arrested Development, because they included references to the cult favorite. Subtle, but true!
Fox / Disney
First, there was an exchange about finishing each other’s sandwiches, just like Lindsay and Michael on the show. Then, there was the chicken dance, quite similar to Buster’s moves. A few more were snuck in, too. The homage is undeniable!
The Princess and the Frog — Magic Carpet Returns
There are Pixar people, and there are classic fans, but Disney still animates feature-length films these days. One of the few they have done outside of the 3D studio is The Princess and the Frog. Character Tiana kisses a frog prince who wants to be a human again. Then, the adventure begins!
Walt Disney Pictures
Sure, there was a charming story. But no Disney film would be complete without a secret throwback to their previous successes. Look at the carpet Tiana shakes out of her window, and it will be obvious. The magic carpet makes a cameo, after a long retirement!