‘Home Alone’: No, the Film-Within-a-Film ‘Angels With Filthy Souls’ Isn’t a Real Movie
“Keep the change, you filthy animal.” If you’ve seen Home Alone, you remember that line, which was uttered by a gun-toting gangster in an old black-and-white movie called Angels With Filthy Souls. The movie-within-a-movie eventually helps 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macauley Culkin) score a cheap cheese pizza and fool a pair of inept robbers. If you’re like a lot of people, you may have assumed the movie Kevin watched was real. But it was actually created specifically for Home Alone.
‘Angels With Filthy Souls’ seems like a real movie, but it’s not
Here’s a refresher in case it’s been awhile since you watched Home Alone. After Kevin is left home alone by his family, he finally gets a chance to see Angels With Filthy Souls, a movie his Uncle Frank wouldn’t let him watch with the older kids (presumably because it’s too violent, but probably also because Uncle Frank is a jerk).
In the scene from the old-timey, noir-ish film, a trench-coated gangster named Snakes meets a man named Johnny in an office. Snakes asks Johnny for the money he’s owed, and Johnny replies by telling the other man he has until the count of 10 to “get your ugly, yella, no-good keister off my property before I pump your guts full of lead.” He cuts the count short at two and shoots Snakes, before uttering the memorable “keep the change” line.
The violent confrontation made quite an impression on Kevin, and on a generation of moviegoers. Many assumed Angels With Filthy Souls was a real movie.
“My entire childhood, I thought the old timey movie that Kevin watches in Home Alone (Angels With Filthy Souls) was actually an old movie,” Seth Rogen tweeted in 2018. “Me too!” Culkin replied.
The story behind ‘Angels With Filthy Souls’
Sadly, we’ll never know the full story behind the Snakes-and-Johnny feud, though we did get a bit of a follow-up in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, where Kevin watches a fake sequel called Angels With Even Filthier Souls. But over the years, several people involved in making Home Alone have shed light on the inspiration behind Angels With Filthy Souls. The basic idea was to evoke classic gangster films like 1938’s Angels With Dirty Faces.
“We really wanted to do an homage to the movie [Angels With Dirty Faces], but we really didn’t watch it a lot,” cinematographer Julio Macat recently told the Hollywood Reporter. “We just wanted the feel of a classic gangster film.”
Macat explained that the film-within-a-film was shot in one day and that he made a deliberate effort to mimic the style of late-30s cinema through the use of filters and lighting.
One ‘Angels With Filthy Souls’ actor was often stopped on the street by people who recognized him
As Snakes, actor Michael Guido only had about a minute of screen time in Home Alone. But it didn’t take long before people started recognizing him from the movie.
“I was getting stopped on the streets by kids who yelled ‘Snakes!’ and then proceeded to do dialogue from the scene in front of me. It was wild. This went on for several years,” he told Vanity Fair.
Originally, Guido was supposed to play Johnny in Angels With Filthy Souls. Ralph Foody, a veteran Chicago theater actor, had been cast as Snakes. But Foody had just had knee surgery, which made it hard to do the dramatic death scene. The pair swapped roles, which Guido said was “perfectly fine with me since they were both fun roles.” Except for one thing.
“[A] few years later I realized that I was just about the only actor from the original film who was not invited to be in the sequel because my character was ‘dead,’” he told Vanity Fair. “Oh well.”