It’s inarguably one of the greatest bits in Home Alone. When Kevin McCallister (Macauley Culkin) takes advantage of the sweet liberties of being home alone — yano, before Joe Pesci and his Sticky Bandit friend show up.
He’s ploughing himself with junk food and indulging in the even sweeter sin of violent television. There’s no Buzz to come out and pound him and no mum or dad to send him to his room without dinner. He can do what he wants. So, he does what any liberated 9-year-old would…he watches the inimitable classic gangster film Angels With Filthy Souls.
Then we hear this classic exchange of dialogue between Johnny and Snakes. The latter asks Johnny for the money he owes head gangster Acey for “the stuff.” Johnny’s retort is “too bad Acey ain’t in charge no more.” Then, rather hilariously, he reveals that Aey is upstairs taking a bath before ordering Snakes to get the hell out of his office before unleashing a parade of bullets through his disbelieving Tommy Gun.
“I’m gonna give you to the count of 10 to get your ugly, yellow, no-good keister off my property before I pump your guts full of lead.”
“All right, Johnny, I’m sorry,” Guido replied, backing away. “I’m going.”
“One. Two. Ten!”
We’ve always wondered what the story was behind the iconic fake gangster movie, and now our prayers have been answered. Vanity Fair have ran a story delving into the fascinating true story behind Angels with Filthy Souls, speaking to the members of crew in Home Alone responsible for making the 80-second clip. The following is a teaser of Vanity Fair’s story on it.
“Reeking of authenticity, Angels with Filthy Souls is not just a uniquely persuasive parody. It’s the perfect movie-within-a-movie: a one-minute-and-20-second noir-in-a-nutshell that feels like a fleeting glimpse of a long-lost classic. Its dialogue is crisp, the characters and performances credible, the rapid escalation of its drama enthralling. Plus it culminates in not just the most memorable utterance in Home Alone but one of the great movie lines of all time: “Keep the change, ya filthy animal”—the sardonic invitation since emblazoned on many a Christmas sweater.
“Angels with Filthy Souls was shot in one day, on the final “test day” before principal photography officially began on Home Alone. “We had nothing to lose,” said director of photography Julio Macat. “We went for it.”
“The script pages for the sequence turned up relatively late, referred to only as “the gangster film.” The eventual title—a tip of the fedora to the James Cagney’s Angels with Dirty Faces—came later. “I believe the title was decided upon only because we needed to create a label for the tape Kevin puts in the VHS player,” said art director Dan Webster. “Now that is a very old-fashioned sentence!”
“It was Macat who persuaded Columbus to shoot the sequence using the techniques and black-and-white negative film stock of movies from the 40s. The high-key lighting, high-contrast aesthetic would evoke “a cross between film noir and the really crazy stuff you see in early television, like Playhouse 90 or One Step Beyond,” said production designer John Muto.
“Like most of the other interior shots in Home Alone, including all the scenes inside the McCallister family home, the sequence was shot on a sound stage in the abandoned New Trier West High School gymnasium. The entire set consisted of just a couple of walls. (Webster suspects that the walls were reused in the “real world” of the movie, for the set of the police office. “We didn’t have the biggest construction budget.”)
“Johnny’s office was designed especially for maximum dramatic backlighting potential: pebbly-textured translucent glass on the door and a Palladian window that would sinisterly spotlight him at his desk through Venetian blinds.