The Story Behind ‘Angels With Filthy Souls,’ The Fake Black-And-White Movie Inside ‘Home Alone’

It’s now been decades since the initial release of Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), but the films remain as relevant as ever in gifs, commercials, and holiday gear. But what’s especially unique about Home Alone is that some of the most popular quotations actually come from the movie within the movie.

Prior to being left home alone, Kevin McCallister expresses a long list of grievances he has against his family. Chief among them is that he is not allowed to see the old movie everyone else gets to watch together. It’s an old, black-and-white film called Angels with Filthy Souls that features an over-the-top, gratuitous outburst carried out by a trigger-happy mob boss named Johnny.

After his family accidentally leaves him behind, Kevin takes advantage of the opportunity to finally watch the forbidden film. Feeling rebellious, Kevin announces, "Guys, I'm eating junk and watching rubbish, you better come out and stop me!" But later, Angels with Filthy Souls plays a hilariously effective role in helping Kevin order pizza and even outsmart the bad guys.

The fake movie became so popular that in Home Alone 2, it got its own sequel, Angels with Even Filthier Souls, which Kevin used to... wait for it... outsmart the entire staff at New York's Plaza Hotel, where he stayed by himself for several luxurious days.

Angels with Filthy Souls plays a pivotal role in the Home Alone films and gave us memorable quotables like, "Keep the change, ya filthy animal." But there's much more to the story.

  • No, 'Angels With Filthy Souls' Isn't A Real Movie

    Much of what makes the black-and-white movie within Home Alone so memorable is how brilliantly it captures the 1940s noir style. It feels so authentic that many have assumed Angels with Filthy Souls was a real movie. 

    In fact, it wasn’t until a tweet from Seth Rogen went viral in 2018 that the truth was revealed. "My entire childhood, I thought the old timey movie that Kevin watches in Home Alone (Angels with Filthy Souls) was actually an old movie,” Rogan wrote.

    The tweet received replies from big names like Chris Evans, Nick Kroll, and Elijah Wood, who were just as surprised. Producer John Cohen called it "the tweet heard 'round the world."

  • Even Macaulay Culkin Was Shocked To Learn The News

    Macaulay Culkin's role in the Home Alone films will forever be his legacy, his name inextricably linked with that of Kevin McCallister - so much so that audiences may assume he knows all of the franchise's behind-the-scenes secrets. But apparently not.

    In a reply to Rogen's incredulous tweet about discovering Angels with Filthy Souls wasn't a real movie, Culkin replied that he was just as surprised to learn the news. Then again, Culkin was a very young kid at the time the original movie was filmed, so he likely had other concerns at the time.

  • 'Angels With Filthy Souls' Is, However, Based On A Real Movie
    Photo: Angels with Dirty Faces / Warner Bros.

    'Angels With Filthy Souls' Is, However, Based On A Real Movie

    The title of Home Alone's fictional flick does reference an actual 1938 James Cagney vehicle called Angels with Dirty Faces, in which two crooks are at odds over compensation. In the initial Home Alone script, it was simply referred to as "the gangster film." But when it came time to shoot, it became apparent that a more official title was needed.

    "I believe the title was decided upon only because we needed to create a label for the tape Kevin puts in the VHS player," art director Dan Webster told Vanity Fair.

  • There Was A Concerted Effort To Make The Scene Feel As Authentic As Possible

    Though the scene is merely just over a minute in duration, there was an enormous amount of attention to detail applied to make it feel like a real 1940s gangster movie. 

    "It was probably the most difficult part of the shoot for me because it's not easy to recreate the look and the feel and the sound of those movies,” director Chris Columbus told Entertainment Weekly. "Thankfully, I'm obsessed with film, so I'd seen enough of them that it was kind of a painstaking task to get right."

    Production designer John Muto told Vanity Fair that the intention was to suggest "a cross between film noir and the really crazy stuff you see in early television, like Playhouse 90 or One Step Beyond."

  • The Whole Thing Was Filmed In One Grueling Day

    Angels with Filthy Souls was filmed in just one day shortly before principal production on Home Alone officially began. As director of photography Julio Macat told Vanity Fair, "We had nothing to lose. We went for it."

    The scene was produced on a soundstage at an abandoned high school gymnasium using lighting and set design techniques featured in 1940s black-and-white films. Set decorators recreated a classic private investigator's office from the era, while artificial mist and old-school lighting helped to set the dramatic mood. To create the proper effect, the lights were fiercely hot.

    "We had to find actors that felt like they lived in that particular time period, as well, which was an interesting thing," Chris Columbus told Entertainment Weekly. "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."

  • The Two Actors Were Initially Cast In The Opposite Roles

    Ralph Foody‘s performance as Johnny, who's so out of his mind that he laughs hysterically while pumping his adversary's guts full of lead, gives the scene such potency it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role. But in fact, Foody and Michael Guido, who played Snakes, were originally set to play the opposite characters. The problem was that Snakes was supposed to fall to the floor as he was getting shot, but Foody was still recovering from knee-replacement surgery and couldn't physically do it. At the last minute, director Chris Columbus decided to switch their roles.

    Guido told Vanity Fair that he didn't mind swapping roles. "That was perfectly fine with me since they were both fun roles," he said. "But 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.' Oh well."