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14 Hidden Messages You Probably Missed in Your Favorite Movies

Updated: Jul. 27, 2022

There's a lot happening in every movie—more than most people can catch after one or even several viewings. Did you get these message from these top films?

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Fight Club

In 1999’s Fight Club, director David Fincher placed a Starbucks coffee cup in every scene, in part because he wanted viewers to think about the company’s omnipresence. Fincher has nothing against Starbucks—when it first came to L.A., Fincher was grateful that it was so easy to find good coffee. But the cups in the film are a metaphor for the dystopian world Fincher created in Fight Club. Also: He was kind of annoyed at Starbucks for not letting him use it as a location in the film.

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The Social Network

In David Fincher’s 2010 movie The Social Network, he references his earlier film: The Zuckerberg character’s computer displays the file “Tyler Durden’s Photos” on the screen. Tyler Durden is the ubiquitous, violent character Brad Pitt plays in Fight Club. Find out the 10 movies with the best one-liners you’ll want to say over and over.

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Alfred Hitchcock

Every Hitchcock film

Alfred Hitchcock makes an appearance in every one of his 39 films, whether it’s him, his body, or a silhouette on the screen. It appears, and then it’s gone, never saying a word and yet sending the very disturbing and intentional message: Mr. Hitchcock is ever-present, observing the darkest aspects of human behavior and exposing them in his films. Can you guess which Hitchcock film was inspired by true life events?

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Psycho II

Psycho II and Gus Van Sant’s Psycho

In a nod to Hitchcock, Richard Franklin incorporated Hitchcock’s image into 1983’s Psycho II. You’ll find it in Mother’s bedrooom—a silhouette on the far right wall when Norman Bates turns on the lights in the room. In Gus Van Sant’s 1998 shot-for-shot remake of the original Psycho, Van Sant places himself in the film next to Hitchcock’s image, which is visible in identical garb (a cowboy hat) in precisely the same scene as in the original (as Janet Leigh enters an office).

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Raiders Of The Lost Ark
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Raiders of the Lost Ark

Next time you re-watch 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, keep an eye out for this clever tribute by director Steven Spielberg to George Lucas, who created both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. As Indy is seen in an Egyptian temple, the hieroglyphs carved into the column on his right include images of the Star Wars robots, R2-D2 and C-3PO. You can also find a carving of Princess Leia with R2-D2 on another wall of the temple. Here are the inspiring Star Wars quotes every fan should know.

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Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom
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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

At the beginning of this 1984 sequel, Indiana exits a nightclub in Shanghai. In another shout-out to the Star Wars franchise, the bar’s name is “Club Obi-Wan.” Find out why Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom made our list of 35 scariest movies of all time.

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A Clockwork Orange
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A Clockwork Orange

But Spielberg wasn’t the first director to reference a previous film of his own. In 1971’s A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick placed the number ”2001” on a shelf in a record store scene as a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Check out the 65 places movie and TV filming locations you can actually visit.

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olaf frozen
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In this 2013’s animated Disney hit Frozen, Hans and Anna sing of their amazing romantic compatibility. “It’s like we finish each other’s….” Hans begins, and Anna completes the sentence in an unexpected way: “Sandwiches!”

“That’s what I was gonna say,” Hans sings. For those in the know, this is actually a shout-out to television’s Arrested Development in which a similar exchange takes place between characters Michael Bluth and his sister, Lindsay.

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frozen characters
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Tangled and Frozen

When two characters from Tangled (Rapunzel and Eugene) turn up at Elsa’s ball in Frozen, diehard fans went kind of bonkers—mostly because they couldn’t quite figure out what the filmmakers were trying to say. Were the worlds of both films really the same? Only time will tell.

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Sleeping Beauty Castle
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Disney’s animated universe

Whether or not Tangled and Frozen are intended to be part of the same timeline, one message from Tangled is clear: This world references itself a bunch. In one scene, there’s a library chock full of fairy tale books with titles such as Mulan, The Little Mermaid, and Sleeping Beauty. Here are the most popular fairy tales of all time.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Not all hidden messages are meant to be “serious.” In the third Harry Potter movie release, Buckbeak, the hippogriff, relieves himself in plain view—something that would have taken quite a bit of money and CGI effort to animate.

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Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy

Another wink-wink hidden message is found in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. When the characters visit a restaurant with a Spanish name, no one seems to notice that the restaurant’s name, Escupimos En Su Alimento,” is actually Spanish for “We spit in your food.”

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The Departed - 2006
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The Departed

Here’s a hidden message that you might consider a spoiler alert, so stop reading here if you haven’t seen this one. In The Departed, director Martin Scorcese pays homage to one of his favorite films, Scarface, by placing an “X” somewhere in the frame whenever a character is about to be killed. Did you know this Oscar-winning film was a remake of a Hong Kong movie called Infernal Affairs? Here are some film remakes that don’t stand up to the originals.

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The Godfather

The Godfather

This one may not be intentional because the director in question, Martin Scorcese, won’t say one way or the other: Repeated viewings of The Godfather films reveal that oranges turn up often, and especially in scenes with characters who end up dead. Some have surmised that the fruit is Scorcese’s code-image meaning “marked for death.” However, some involved with the making of the films have denied this, claiming instead that oranges simply worked aesthetically in some of the film’s more somber scenes. Next, find out some more movie trivia facts you won’t believe are true.

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