Dead End [1937] wallpaper

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1920 x 1080 wallpaper of William Wyler‘s big screen interpretation of Dead End, featuring Humphrey Bogart.

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Black Narcissus wallpaper

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1920x1080 wallpaper

A 1920 x 1080 (1080p HD) wallpaper for Powell & Pressburger’s Black Narcissus. Enjoy the film Simon.

Scarface [1932] and its X motif

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Howard Hawks’ Scarface is one of the quintessential classic gangster movies. A story of relentless hunger for power and wealth, carried out with violence, laughs and balls that could only come from a pre-code film. Scarface, helped in no small part by Paul Muni‘s portrayal of the maniacal Tony Camonte, has to be one of the most influential movies in cinema history.

A great little artistic flourish that Hawks integrated into the set design is the “X” insignia visible when a body lies cold by the hand of Scarface Camonte . Whether the X is a signature of sorts – the bodies signed with an X to match Tony’s scar – or just a literal representation of a killer “X-ing” his victim is up for debate. Perhaps its a nod to journalistic practices at the time which used an X to show where a body lay in photographs. Whatever the reason, it’s a unique feature that has since been imitated and copied in countless other films. Here are a collection of stills which show the technique in effect. If you are planning to see this film any time soon, bear in mind some pretty big spoilers lie ahead.

First, the most important X of all. Tony’s scar:

Tony pays a visit to a victim in hospital, as the mark of death is cast as a shadow on the wall

Another victim of Camonte’s reign of terror lies under the crossed shadow of an undertaker’s sign.

A neon X sits high on a wall as Tony’s crew take out a rival’s car.

One of my favourites. 7 people are lined up against a wall in a representation of the infamous St Valentine’s day massacre. The camera pans up and we see 7 x’s in the roof struts


A beam of light forms a perfect cross on a body.

Here the X is used as a foreshadowing device. No killing takes place in this scene but the ominous X of light clearly shows Gaffney is a marked man.

Gaffney’s cards are marked, in more ways than one. After crossing off a strike on his scorecard, he is in turn crossed off in a bowling alley.

In a dancehall scene, Tony’s sister is the only girl with crossed straps on her back. Another foreshadowing X .

A desk-fan is strategically placed in the background as Tony takes down boss Johnny Lovo.


Two for one in this scene (a visual double-cross?) as Scarface takes down his own henchman Guino.

As Tony’s sister takes a bullet deflected by his shutters, a fallen lamp in the background provides the familiar motif.

I’ll leave you with the trailer, which again is pretty full of spoilers and should be avoided if you plan on watching this great film.

“Twenty-four eyes” wallpaper

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Click the above image for 1920×1080 desktop wallpaper.

What do the films Seven Samurai, Godzilla, and Sansho the Bailiff have in common? They were all beaten to the coveted Blue Ribbon award in 1954 by Keisuke Kinoshita‘s “Nijûshi no hitomi” a.k.a Twenty-four eyes. An achingly beautiful and tragic story spanning two decades, “Twenty-four eyes” is a study of the passing of time, the student-teacher relationship, and a moving commentary on how war is paid for by the lives of our children.

Along with the Blue Ribbon, this film is also the current holder of the (less coveted) “last film to make m00ch cry” award. Yeah go ahead, laugh it up. This is a heart-wrenching film and I defy anyone with a soul to not be moved by its tragedy and poetic story. The film is a reminder that we were all innocent children once upon a time, and will make you long for the naivety and blissful ignorance so intertwined with youth.

This is a solid 5-star film, and while it may sound pretentiously cliche, I can think of no better phrase to describe 24 eyes than a journey through life itself. Not to be missed.

Five Graves to Cairo [1943] wallpaper

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I’m a huge fan of Billy Wilder, owning pretty much all of his films that are possible to obtain on DVD. While he is known for churning out hit after hit of hugely popular and artistically credible films as Sunset Blvd, Some Like it Hot, Sabrina and Double Indemnity (I could go on) there are also a few gems in his oeuvre that are often overlooked. Five Graves to Cairo is one of them.

Click the above picture for a full 1920×1080 resolution wallpaper.

IMDb summary : “June, 1942. The British Army, retreating ahead of victorious Rommel, leaves a lone survivor on the Egyptian border–Corporal John Bramble, who finds refuge at a remote desert hotel…soon to be German HQ. To survive, Bramble assumes an identity which proves perilous. The new guest of honor is none other than Rommel, hinting of his secret strategy, code-named ‘five graves’, and the fate of the British in Egypt depends on whether a humble corporal can penetrate the secret…”

This is early Wilder – following up from the kitsch but charming Ginger Rogers vehicle “The Major and the Minor” – but it still oozes with his trademark screenplay writing skill and his innate sense of rhythm and perfect pace. Its origins as a play are sometimes felt in a slightly “stagey” mise-en-scène, but this is a star-laden, tense wartime drama that is very entertaining.

Even at this very early stage in his Directorial career, Wilder had a knack for attracting star power to his films, or creating stars overnight. As you would expect from the actress who held her own alongside Bette Davis in All About Eve (no mean feat!), Anne Baxter‘s sultry looks and acting skill shine through even with her slightly phoney French accent. Franchot Tone owns the lead role that Cary Grant famously turned down, but the real star here is Erich Von Stroheim, whose larger than life self-caricature slots perfectly into the role of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.

Any fans of Billy Wilder cannot truly call themselves a fan until they have seen this film. While it may not match the undeniable qualities of his more critically acclaimed works, it is still a fitting example of his output, and shows that even an average Billy Wilder film is leaps and bounds ahead of the opposition.

Flesh and Fury [1952] wallpaper

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In honour of Tony Curtis who sadly passed away a couple of days ago, I finally got round to watching a DVD which has been gathering dust on my shelf for quite some time – Flesh and Fury, and it was a lot better than I was expecting it to be. Click the above image for full 1920 x 1080 resolution wallpaper.

Curtis plays Paul Callan, a deaf boxer who is being exploited by his loathsome, gold-digging girlfriend Sonya Bartow (played by Jan Sterling). When a journalist arrives on the scene (Mona Freeman as Ann Hollis) to write a human interest story on Callan, they quickly fall for each other and Callan undergoes an operation to restore his hearing, with life, and career-changing results.

The film is a perfect early vehicle for Curtis. Even though later in his career he was to show some undeniable acting skill and range (Sweet Smell of Success, Some Like it Hot, The Boston Strangler etc.. ) it’s safe to say that he was initially given roles because of his good-looks, a point that Curtis himself seemed to be very aware of in his books and interviews. So a film where he plays a muscle-bound, athletic boxer who is mute due to deafness was tailor-made for Curtis at this point in his career.

The boxing matches, while not up there with the likes of “Body and Soul“, are still very well shot and edited, and pretty realistic for the most part. The film’s plot is fairly shallow, predictable and saccharin sweet at times, but at a brief 80 minutes long, it is swift enough to remain entertaining.

While not one of the all-time greats, if you are looking for an easy to watch, light drama on a Sunday afternoon, or just want to see why Curtis was so adored by women, you could do a lot worse than Flesh and Fury.

Pickup on South Street wallpaper

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A 1920×1080 wallpaper for Sam Fuller‘s outstanding tale of crime and espionage “Pickup on South Street” starring the fantastic Richard Widmark. Read the review here, or click the image for full widescreen 1920×1080

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