Perhaps one of the more amusing aspects of Home Alone is Kevin McCallister's (Macaulay Culkin) love for a film that is seemingly from the 1940s. Many times throughout Home Alone, Kevin uses a VHS copy of Angels with Filthy Souls to manipulate whatever scrape he is currently in. Whether he wants to avoid paying for pizza or is trying to fool the bad guys, this motion picture serves him well. Is Angels with Filthy Souls a real movie? Filthy animals want to know!
Is 'Angels with Filthy Souls' a real movie?
If you've desperately searched for Angels with Filthy Souls (AWFS) on every streaming service out there, you've probably come up empty. That's because the movie that Kevin was so obsessed with in Home Alone is not an actual movie. This is truly shocking, as the clips of AWFS we see in Home Alone could have been ripped from the pages of our favorite noir films. The scenes we, the viewers, are privy to rival that of any Humphrey Bogart movie. So, where did AWFS come from?
It turns out that AWFS is an homage to James Cagney and Humphrey's Angels with Dirty Faces. Home Alone art director Dan Webster told Vanity Fair that they only landed on the title of the movie because they needed a label for the VHS tape (apologies to the youth reading this — we can't explain what a VHS tape is).
Who starred in 'Angels with Filthy Souls'?
The clip from the fictionalized Angels with Filthy Souls was shot "on a sound stage in the abandoned New Trier West High School gymnasium," the Vanity Fair piece revealed. This seems to be standard for John Hughes, who wrote Home Alone. He also constructed a fake library within the gymnasium of then Maine North High School, outside of Chicago, for The Breakfast Club.
Every aspect of the set contributed to the old black and white vibe of the faux film. According to the Vanity Fair piece, "Set decorators Eve Cauley and Dan Clancy fitted the room out with a private investigator’s tools of the trade: an old typewriter, a pair of binoculars at the window, a grabaphone, and a Colt 1921AC Thompson submachine gun — the very Tommy gun that Cagney himself totes in the 1935 mobster movie G Men." The amount of care and detail put into this scene is kind of incredible.
The actor originally cast to play Johnny was not the guy we ended up seeing. Michael Guido, who was a stage actor performing in a comedy at the Victory Gardens in Chicago, fit the bill. Casting director Janet Hirshenson was on the hunt for a specific look. She told Vanity Fair, "People back then had different diets. The ideal look was more Ryan Gosling than Brad Pitt. Those lips were not in vogue." Something out of Michael's control changed his life forever.
Ralph Foody, who was originally supposed to play the part of Snakes, was gifted the role of Johnny instead because he had recently undergone knee surgery and couldn't kneel during a crucial part of shooting. Michael became Snakes. "That was perfectly fine with me since they were both fun roles, 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," Michael revealed to Vanity Fair.
The best part about Angels with Filthy Souls is the fact that so many people questioned whether or not it was a real movie. That's a real testament to the commitment and care that went into Home Alone. And, decades later, people are still quoting from a movie that never existed. Who can say that?