“Keep the change, ya filthy animal.”
It’s the sarcastic final line of an iconic scene, etched into the minds of countless “Home Alone” fans as a classic and quotable moment in a movie full of them.
And yet, when fans actually go to search for “Angels With Filthy Souls,” the Depression-era gangster flick that Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) pops into his VCR while he’s, you remember, home alone, they’re hit with the sudden realization: the film never actually existed.
Instead, the movie-within-a-movie was created specifically for “Home Alone.” The 80-second clip was shot inside an abandoned high school in early 1990, at the beginning of the movie’s production, as Vanity Fair reported in 2015. Venetian blinds were added to give the scene its signature film noir touch.
The fake movie was heavily inspired by a real film, though: “Angels With Dirty Faces,” a 1938 crime film with a cast that featured James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and Pat O’Brien.
Cagney stars as Rocky Sullivan, a New York City crook who takes the fall for an attempted armed robbery in exchange for $100,000 and not ratting out his co-conspirator Jim Frazier, played by Bogart. But once he’s out of prison, Sullivan has a tough time collecting his money from Frazier — a payment Frazier has no plans of making — quickly pitting the two gangsters against each other.
“Angels With Dirty Faces” was praised by The New York Times after its debut, saying it was Cagney “at his best” in his role as the “swaggering little rowdy” that was Sullivan. “The film proceeds racily, overcoming the familiarity of the ground it is covering by its surprising twists of plot and character, and it emerges as one of the most picturesque and dramatic of this year’s crime studies,” the paper added.
The film has retained its status as a seminal work in the history of the genre, with Empire Magazine declaring in 2006 it’s “a real Cagney gangster classic.”
You can check out the entire movie, which has been posted to YouTube, below:
Of course, if you aren’t a film buff or a big fan of 80-year-old movies, you might have missed the clear homage in “Home Alone.”
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 (@Sethrogen) December 25, 2018
Seth Rogen said in a tweet on Tuesday that he had long believed the scene came from a real movie, tweeting on Tuesday to his 7.79 million followers that he thought “Filthy Souls” was authentic since his “entire childhood.”
In the “Home Alone” version of “Angels With Filthy Souls,” Ralph Foody was cast as Johnny, the surly crook that decides to riddle Snakes, played by Michael Guido, with bullets after he asks for his “dough.” McAllister, fans will remember, used the sound of gunshots and Johnny’s maniacal cackle to scare away Marv, the bumbling robber played by Daniel Stern.
The scene was an instant hit and has remained a distinct scene from the Christmas movie nearly 30 years later.
“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,” Guido told Vanity Fair.
Recreating the 1930s vibe of Cagney’s film proved tricky, however. Director Chris Columbus told EW in 2015 that “Angels With Even Filthier Souls,” which was featured in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” was “probably the most difficult part of the shoot” because “it’s not easy to recreate the look and feel and sound of those movies.”
Columbus continued: “Thankfully, I’m obsessed with film, so I’d seen enough of them that it was kind of a painstaking task to get it right. And we had to find actors that felt like they lived in that particular time period, as well, which was an interesting thing. People kind of looked a little differently back then. I don’t know, maybe it was the camera, but we had to find actors that looked like they existed in the ’40s.”
If you missed out on watching “Home Alone” this holiday season, the clip of “Angels With Filthy Souls” is included below: