The idea of films within films may be a thoroughly meta device but, in some instances, these mini movies offer a fascinating window into another world within the world we are watching.
Arguably the first and most famous incarnation of the concept came in Home Alone and the infamous gangster movie Kevin enjoys all alone – “Angels With Dirty Faces.”
What many kids, including myself, failed to realise was that the film that featured was actually created specifically for the film.
That’s right: you’ll find no full version of Angels With Dirty Faces on DVD any time soon.
And that’s only the start – there are a plethora of films within films worthy of revisiting – here are just five of our favourites.
Last Action Hero was ahead of its time when it came to films within films but while the finished film was something of a mixed bag this inspired send-up of Hollywood’s increasing fascination with all things William Shakespeare. Arnie’s finest performance.
No one has quite managed to lampoon the late-career malaise of once-great comedians like Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence quite as well as Jack Black in this brilliant fake trailer from the opening minutes of Tropic Thunder. The fart jokes just about land too.
The propaganda film at the centre of Quentin Tarantino’s Nazi-led fantasy Inglorious Basterds was so convincing some actually thought it was real or at the very least based on real events. Neither is true.
Michael Keaton announced his return to the big time with the sublime Birdman, a film that was borderline autobiographical with Keaton cast as an actor forever associated with a wing-based superhero. Still, we would be tempted to see what a full-length Birdman Returns would look like.
Another slice of genius from Tropic Thunder, this film successfully lampooned the Oscar-buzz around Brokeback Mountain with a memorable trailer detailing the love story between two monks – Robert Downey Jr and Tobey Maguire – full of wonderful, witty little touches.