Angels With Filthy Souls may not be a real movie, but the fake film noir is just as iconic as the 1990 movie it appears in.
Giving home alone one of his most popular catchphrases, “Keep the change, you filthy animal,” the gangster image that helped Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) pull off some shenanigans paid homage to a real movie, Angels With dirty faces. , which was released on November 10. 26, 1938.
To celebrate the likely anniversary of the faux classic, Home Alone cinematographer Julio Macat details how Angels With Dirty Souls was created: a job so well done even the stars noticed they thought the gangster flick it was real (“my whole childhood i thought the old movie kevin watches home alone…was actually an old movie,” seth rogen previously tweeted).
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“We really wanted to do an homage to the movie [Angels with Dirty Faces], but we didn’t really see much of it,” Macat explains. “We just wanted the feel of a classic gangster movie.”
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Warner Bros.’ Angels With Dirty Faces was packed with legendary star power the likes of James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan and George Bancroft. It was nominated for three Oscars: best actor (Cagney), best director (Michael Curtiz) and the category then known as best story (Rowland Brown).
“what really helped was being in chicago and having those theater actors,” macat says of recreating that bygone era. The late Ralph Foody played the headstrong Johnny, whose Thompson “Tommy” machine gun was second only to his maniacal laughter. Michael Guido played the Serpents, who while searching for their “dough” met an untimely end via an interrupted countdown. foody died in 1999 at the age of 71.
“I realized that [foody] came from the theater because it was larger than life,” says macat, who notes that home alone was his first feature film as a cinematographer and that angels was filmed on the last day of preparation before production. “We shot all of that in one day. we did it fast.”
It was macat’s idea to shoot the fake movie in the style of the late 1930s, which means it was his turn to make it happen. “I got a very slow black and white film from kodak, which means you have strong lights to get the exposure. it takes three or four times as much light as normal to expose the film,” he recalls. “Then there was the strong backlight, steaming up the room and having the shutters in classic noir style. I used double fog filters and tried to match the camera lenses. I used some mesh material in front of the lenses to enhance the highlights even more.”
Angels With Filthy Souls was filmed inside a small library in Lincoln Park. and macat says it was a particularly cold day and the building had no heating. “I was thinking, ‘Thank God for the hot lights,'” she says.
The seasoned cinematographer, who has 40 films under his belt but Home Alone remains his favorite, recalls that the machine gun was intimidating, at least to everyone but foodies. “The way he handled the gun, he used it full force,” Macat says, laughing. “I don’t remember having to add flashes of fire in front of the gun. and it was super loud, which made it all the better because it was scary. we were safe, but it was scary.”
macat returned as cinematographer for home alone 2, which featured another installment in the gangster series: angels with even dirtier souls, again starring foody. “I once jokingly told Chris, ‘Dude, write the script for angels with dirty souls. I want to shoot that movie!’”