What All The Old Movie References In Better Call Saul Say About The Characters - /Film (2022)

What All The Old Movie References In Better Call Saul Say About The Characters - /Film (1)

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ByValerie Ettenhofer/Aug. 6, 2022 2:59 pm EDT

In the midseason finale of "Better Call Saul" season six, just before Lalo Salamanca paints their living room with doomed lawyer Howard Hamlin's blood, Kim (Rhea Seehorn) and Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) watch a movie. This isn't unusual for them. Throughout the series' seven-year run, the pair have proven themselves cinephiles, often referencing classic movies in passing and sometimes settling down for a quiet movie night.

On this night, the pair are watching "Born Yesterday," a 1950 comedic drama about the exploits of a possessive crook named Harry (Broderick Crawford), his unrefined girlfriend, Billie (Judy Holliday), and a journalist, Paul (William Holden). The George Cukor flick is notable for a few reasons, but when it comes to its presence on "Better Call Saul," one stands out: a large part of its plot involves Harry talking Billie into marriage to achieve spousal privilege, so she can't testify against him in court.

(Video) Top 20 Hidden References to Breaking Bad in Better Call Saul

Naturally, the film's appearance in "Better Call Saul," a series whose co-creator Vince Gilligan has been peppering with clues and symbolic references since the early days of "Breaking Bad," feels noteworthy. Does "Born Yesterday" hold some in-narrative significance? Does the nod to spousal privilege mean Kim will one day turn on Jimmy? According to episode writer-director Tom Schnauz, it's nothing so significant as all that. "We needed a movie and that was just one that felt fun for the scene. It's that simple," the filmmaker told The Hollywood Reporter.

A habit of homage

Schnauz says he wanted the moment to convey "Jimmy and Kim at their happiest," and that the classic was on a list of free films they're able to feature in the series. Still, that doesn't mean all of the movies featured in the series are meaningless. "There are certain films like 'Scarface' in 'Breaking Bad' where we'd have to pay [for them]," Schnauz says, referencing the 1983 Brian de Palma gangster remake that featured in a pivotal episode of the forerunner to "Saul."

If the inclusion of "Scarface" in an episode of "Breaking Bad" was intentional — and it surely was, since Gilligan has used the character as part of his elevator pitch for Walter White's journey from the beginning — that means "Better Call Saul" could be using its movie night picks to help characterize its antiheroes, too.

The series has certainly dabbled in purposeful homage before, from its "Citizen Kane"-like final season opener to Jimmy's journey into the desert a la "Lawrence of Arabia," in an episode that Gilligan says was almost shot on that film's exact lens. Coincidentally or not, the cover of "Lawrence of Arabia" shows up on a Blockbuster store shelf in the third season finale, just before Chuck's (Michael McKean) death sends Jimmy down the path that will eventually lead him on his accidental desert pilgrimage.

Mike and Cary

What All The Old Movie References In Better Call Saul Say About The Characters - /Film (3)

Columbia Pictures

So what could the series' characters' movie night choices tell us about them? Well, it depends on who's watching what. Fixer Mike Ehrmentraut (Jonathan Banks), for example, has a knack for watching movies featuring characters whose lack of control stands in contrast to his own calm, collected demeanor. In one episode, he puts on "The Awful Truth," a 1937 screwball comedy starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. The pair play an indecisive couple who can't stop breaking up and falling for one another, then sabotaging each others' new relationships.

Later, Mike catches "His Girl Friday," a movie that Jimmy and Kim also watch later on. That film, another Cary Grantclassic, follows a newspaper editor and his star reporter and ex-wife, who can't seem to get enough of one another or of the high-risk, high-reward work they do together. There's something to be said for retirement-age Mike simply liking Grant, an actor with a long and dignified career who maintained his success for decades. But it's also possible that he's watching movies that call to mind his coworkers and peers.

While the broad strokes of the first two films involve unorthodox couples who don't seem capable of quitting one another, as Jimmy and Kim would eventually become, another film Mike watches with Kaylee carries echoes of his work as well. "The Mouse That Roared" is a goofy 1959 war satire that starts out being about one product — a famous wine — but is actually about a much more sinister one, the atomic "Q bomb." In short, "The Mouse That Roared" features warring groups going through a whole lot of silly drama and showmanship. It's exactly the kind of power play nonsense Mike has no patience for in real life, when dealing with Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and the Salamancas.

(Video) Top 10 Hidden References to Breaking Bad in Better Call Saul

Kim Wexler, thrill hunter

What All The Old Movie References In Better Call Saul Say About The Characters - /Film (4)

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(Video) 17 Breaking Bad References Hidden in Better Call Saul

If Mike likes movies that relay a chaos that's opposite his own temperament, Kim and Jimmy seem to enjoy films that involve plenty of lying, double-crossing, and grand adventure. While Kim at one point cites the Gregory Peck-led adaptation of "To Kill A Mockingbird" as among her favorite movies, the rest of her taste is decidedly less idealistic than the story about honorable lawyer Atticus Finch. In one episode, she asks Jimmy if he wants to watch "The Thing," the 1982 John Carpenter horror classic about survival and mistrust in the Antarctic. In others, we glimpse posters in Kim's apartment for two 1930s films about criminals, "Outlaw Justice" and "The Thrill Hunter."

As with other movies referenced in the show, these two films may be shown less as direct clues about Kim's storyline and more as details that enrich our understanding her character and the kind of narratives that appeal to her. Though it's nearly impossible to find, synopses indicate that 1932's "Outlaw Justice" is a Western about an accused murderer who ends up teaming up with a woman rancher to take down a gang leader who's after her land. It's one of several films in the "Better Call Saul" oeuvre that includes a partnership between a criminal man and an equally capable woman.

1933's "The Thrill Hunter," however, might be the most telling of all the movies featured on this list. It follows a self-aggrandising stuntman named Buck (Buck Jones) who can't help but tell tall tales to win over a leading lady named Marjorie (Dorothy Revier). In the end, after the pair have endured several dangerous scenarios thanks to Buck's lies — including, once again, almost being killed by a gang — the stuntman vows to Marjorie to never lie again.

When 'Saul' references 'Bad'

What All The Old Movie References In Better Call Saul Say About The Characters - /Film (5)

Warner Bros.

Yet at the end of "The Thrill Hunter," Buck can't help but slip back into a fib one more time before the fade to black. Certainly, there are parallels here between Kim and Jimmy's own lives, but that doesn't mean Kim will end up with Jimmy. Rather, the fact that they both know this is the kind of story she's a long-time fan of makes her own psychological pull towards the con man in her life feel all the more inevitable.

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While Mike and Kim's chosen filmographies seem to convey subtle intertextualities, Jimmy's often feature obvious callbacks to "Breaking Bad," as well as more overt character connections. "Ice Station Zebra," for example, shows up in Gilligan's earlier series as the name of Saul's holding company which he uses to avoid paying taxes. In a second season episode of "Better Call Saul," Jimmy and Kim watch the 1968 Rock Hudson spy movie of the same name together, enjoying the adventures and double-crosses of the film about a British intelligence agent (Patrick McGoohan) and an American Commander (Hudson) on the hunt for a film capsule with international implications.

The same retroactive referencing happens with "White Heat": Jimmy/Saul mentions the film in "Breaking Bad," telling Walt (Bryan Cranston), "I guess that's why gangsters had molls. Gun molls. Haven't you ever seen 'White Heat?' Maybe you need a moll more than you need a wife who you can't trust with your secrets." It's a great throwaway comment, but gains significance when the movie comes up again in "Better Call Saul," as Jimmy tells Kim that it's on playing on TV.

When movie night gets too real

What All The Old Movie References In Better Call Saul Say About The Characters - /Film (6)

AMC

Of all the films referenced here, "White Heat" may share the most narrative DNA with "Breaking Bad." Among other things, it includes a train robbery, a narrow escape from law enforcement, and a climactic, unapologetic death scene for James Cagney's criminal. There's also, of course, the fact that Jimmy saw Kim as his partner in crime, if not exactly a "moll" — a term used in films like "White Heat" to refer to a gangster or criminal's loyal girlfriend.

The film references in "Better Call Saul" go on and on: "Doctor Zhivago," "After Hours," and dozens more make appearances, if not via footage on screen, then in references Jimmy makes in his cons and legal work. It's clear that for much of the series' run, Jimmy saw himself through a cinematic lens – as a Kevin Costner lookalike, or a David Lean protagonist, or a pre-code rapscallion.

The show's movie references have noticeably died down since the mid-season finale,when, as Schnauz tells THR, Jim and Kimmy are "eating dinner, drinking wine and watching a movie and this is when they're at their happiest." As "Better Call Saul" enters its already-heartbreaking endgame, Jimmy has become the crime movie antihero he loves to watch. Sadly, it turns out to be a life that looked a lot more fun when it was on TCM.

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FAQs

What movie are they watching Better Call Saul? ›

The film references in "Better Call Saul" go on and on: "Doctor Zhivago," "After Hours," and dozens more make appearances, if not via footage on screen, then in references Jimmy makes in his cons and legal work.

How much earlier does Better Call Saul take place? ›

While "Better Call Saul" is a mix of both a prequel and sequel series, most of it takes place before the events of "Breaking Bad." The series is meant to fill in the gaps of the six years before Saul Goodman's first appearance in the series that started it all.

What is the connection between Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad? ›

Better Call Saul, of course, is a prequel to Breaking Bad, which took place around the time that it originally aired, premiering on AMC in 2008. Saul Goodman made his debut in Season 2's eighth episode, aptly titled “Better Call Saul,” as the attorney of Walt and Jesse's meth dealer Badger.

Is all of Better Call Saul before Breaking Bad? ›

It can be watched before or after Saul, just as long as you finish it after Breaking Bad (or risk spoiling the entire series).

Do I watch Better Call Saul before El Camino? ›

Basically, you can watch that too before hopping back to Better Call Saul. Or, if you're eager to get through the final episodes of that show — I know I was — then save El Camino for after you've finished both series.

What movie are Kim and Jimmy watching? ›

That night, at their apartment, Jimmy and Kim are watching the 1950 film Born Yesterday when a disheveled Howard pays an unannounced visit.

Is a Chicago sunroof a real thing? ›

A Chicago Sunroof is not a real thing. Or rather, it wasn't a real thing. Because thanks to Peter Gould and the Better Call Saul writers, it is very much a real thing now.

Why is BCS black and white? ›

Why are Gene's Better Call Saul scenes in black and white? Gene Takavic's scenes in Better Call Saul take place in black and white because Jimmy finds his new life to be a lonely, depressing and unfulfilling existence.

Does Breaking Bad take place in the 90s? ›

Set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, between 2008 and 2010, Breaking Bad follows Walter White, a modest high school chemistry teacher who transforms into a ruthless kingpin in the local methamphetamine drug trade, driven to financially provide for his family after being diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.

How is Todd alive in El Camino? ›

Like Bryan Cranston's Walter White and Jonathan Banks' Mike Ehrmantraut, Todd is brought back from the dead via flashbacks by Breaking Bad creator and El Camino writer-director Vince Gilligan.

How long was Better Call Saul before Breaking Bad? ›

Better Call Saul follows the transformation of Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), a former con artist who is trying to become a respectable lawyer, into the personality of the flamboyant criminal lawyer Saul Goodman (a play on the phrase "[it]'s all good, man!"), over the six-year period prior to the events of Breaking Bad, ...

Does el Camino take place before or after Breaking Bad? ›

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (or simply El Camino) is a 2019 American crime thriller film. Part of the Breaking Bad franchise, it serves as a sequel and epilogue to the television series Breaking Bad.

Do I watch El Camino after Breaking Bad? ›

Whereas El Camino takes place after the events of Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul is primarily a prequel and so there isn't an overlap in terms of time period.

How much did Bob Odenkirk get paid for nobody? ›

It is not known exactly how much Bob Odenkirk earned from producing and starring in the 2021 movie Nobody. However, it has been reported he may have made $1 million for his work on the film.

How old is Jimmy McGill? ›

As revealed by his driver's license in Better Call Saul season 5 episode "JMM", when Jimmy and Kim are getting married, he was born on November 12, 1960. That means that in Better Call Saul season 1, Jimmy McGill is 41 years old, with the events of those episodes covering May-July 2002.

What is El Camino meaning? ›

El Camino is Spanish for 'the way'. The title of the movie references the car in which Jesse makes his escape at the end of the series finale.

Is El Camino canon? ›

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is a worthy edition in the Breaking Bad canon. It takes forward the story of a character who was the moral centre of the show - or at least one who passed for one - and completes his arc in a satisfying way.

Why did Saul rip up the $26000 check? ›

Saul returns to his office to find a pile of bills and a mysterious check for $26,000 from a law office with the last name McGill. Saul rips the check up in disgust. It turns out the check is from the firm of Saul's older brother, Chuck.

What happens to Kim Wexler at the end of Better Call Saul? ›

In the final season of Better Call Saul, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) lived to tell. And as a result, she might now be able to live with herself.

Does Kim still love Jimmy? ›

Yes, Kim still loves Jimmy in the 'Better Call Saul' series finale. Jimmy calls Kim after six years in the Better Call Saul timeline. She tells him he should turn himself in which upsets him.

Will Kim return Better Call Saul? ›

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched the 12th episode of “Better Call Saul” Season 6, titled “Waterworks.” Kim Wexler is back! After she and Saul (Bob Odenkirk) had a shocking break-up three episodes ago, “Better Call Saul” fans have been going through a Wexler withdrawal.

Is Saul Goodman Irish? ›

In Breaking Bad, Saul reveals to Walter White that he's actually Irish-American and only pretends to be Jewish “for the homeboys who want a member of the tribe.”

Why did Jimmy McGill go to jail? ›

Jimmy McGill is arrested for breaking into Chuck McGill's house. Jimmy goes against Kim Wexler's advice and represents himself, pleads not guilty, and posts bail. He later tells her she should work on Mesa Verde business while he takes care of his own legal battle, to which she flatly agrees.

What is a moon roof for? ›

What is a moonroof? A moonroof is considered a type of sunroof, says CARFAX. But a moonroof usually has a tinted glass panel, much like an extra window, on top of the car. It is designed to let in light without having to let in the elements, according to USNews.com.

Who is the Cinnabon guy in Better Call Saul? ›

Cinnabon appears in the first episode of every season of Better Call Saul, except for season 6. It is located inside a large Omaha, Nebraska shopping mall. Jimmy McGill, living under the false identity "Gene Takavic" is the store manager, depressed with his situation and longing to unearth his true passion as a lawyer.

Was Better Call Saul Cancelled? ›

The sixth and final season of the AMC television series Better Call Saul premiered on April 18, 2022, in the United States, and concluded on August 15, 2022. The thirteen-episode season was broadcast on Mondays at 9:00 pm (Eastern) in the United States on AMC and its streaming service AMC+.

Why did Saul cut the wire? ›

As she's heading home, her scooter gets caught on the pavement right next to where Gene is putting up posters for his missing dog, Nippy. Unsurprisingly, the missing dog is a ruse to earn Marion's trust—when Gene offers to move her scooter, he cuts the wiring so that she has no choice but to let him into her home.

What happened to the real Walter White? ›

BILLINGS, Mont. - Walter White, a Lockwood man who coincidentally has the same name as the lead character in the AMC television series “Breaking Bad,” has been sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison for dealing methamphetamine.

Was the pizza supposed to land on the roof? ›

During a Reddit AMA session on Thursday, “Breaking Bad” creator Gilligan explained the decision to leave the pizza unsliced so that it wouldn't fall to pieces on its flight to the roof. He also explained that the decision required some after-the-fact writing to keep the logic as intact as the pie.

Why was Breaking Bad Cancelled? ›

Following Breaking Bad's overwhelming popularity on Netflix, the show was renewed for season five which was the last outing. Speaking about why he chose to end Breaking Bad on the fifth run, Gilligan said it was his experiences of serving as a writer on The X-Files which led to his decision.

What happens to Skyler after Walt dies? ›

When her life fell apart and Walt disappeared, Skyler lost her assets and moved in with her kids in a small apartment with a job as a taxi dispatcher. It was revealed that her sister, Marie, reached out for a truce, so it's likely that the two reconnected shortly after the series finale.

Why does Walt look weird in El Camino? ›

The appearance of the actors in El Camino was one of the movie's biggest obstacles. Another obvious example of this is the younger Walter White in the movie's flashback at the diner, where it's rather evident that Walt's bald head had to be created through makeup because Bryan Cranston's own hair had already grown.

Is Skyler in El Camino? ›

served as key characters throughout Breaking Bad, but they didn't appear in 2019's El Camino for an understandable reason. Skyler and Walt Jr. served as key characters throughout Breaking Bad, but despite a plethora of original series cameos, they were both notably absent from 2019's El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.

How long after Breaking Bad is the gene timeline? ›

Gene's timeline is approximately equal two months; Breaking Bad timeline takes exactly two years to complete.

Why is it called Better Call Saul? ›

The creators decided on the name "Saul Goodman" as a play on the phrase "[It]'s all good, man", so that even his most simple-minded clients would remember his name when they get arrested. Gould credits Breaking Bad's creator Vince Gilligan for initially suggesting this idea for Saul's name.

What should I watch after Better Call Saul? ›

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  • The Good Fight.
  • Show Me a Hero.
  • Boardwalk Empire.
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  • Lodge 49.
  • Animal Kingdom.
  • Damages.
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Does Walter White appear in Better Call Saul? ›

Better Call Saul co-creator Peter Gould already confirmed America's favorite meth lab coworkers, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), would be reprising their Breaking Bad roles this season.

How long was Walt in hiding? ›

“Stay a little longer?” Walt asks the disappearer after two months of dying alone in his cabin, begging for two hours, but settling for one. After five years, that's all any of us have left with Walt and Jesse. And it feels like time.

How old is Jesse in El Camino? ›

Jesse's age was first mentioned by Gus's doctor in the episode "Crawl Space," and Jesse's birthdate is established as September 24, 1984, which means that during the events of both "Felina" and El Camino, he should be 25 years old.

Do I watch El Camino after Breaking Bad? ›

Whereas El Camino takes place after the events of Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul is primarily a prequel and so there isn't an overlap in terms of time period.

Is El Camino after Breaking Bad? ›

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (or simply El Camino) is a 2019 American crime thriller film. Part of the Breaking Bad franchise, it serves as a sequel and epilogue to the television series Breaking Bad.

Why did Saul rip up the $26000 check? ›

Saul returns to his office to find a pile of bills and a mysterious check for $26,000 from a law office with the last name McGill. Saul rips the check up in disgust. It turns out the check is from the firm of Saul's older brother, Chuck.

What should I watch after Better Call Saul? ›

9 Shows Like Better Call Saul to Ease the Pain of It Being Over
  • Barry.
  • The Good Fight.
  • Show Me a Hero.
  • Boardwalk Empire.
  • Billions.
  • Lodge 49.
  • Animal Kingdom.
  • Damages.
19 Aug 2022

Is Saul in El Camino? ›

These Better Call Saul characters are also present in El Camino.

What is El Camino meaning? ›

El Camino is Spanish for 'the way'. The title of the movie references the car in which Jesse makes his escape at the end of the series finale.

How long was Jesse in captivity? ›

Jesse spent roughly six months as their slave, bound in ankle-and-hand-cuffs while meth-making in the warehouse and sleeping in a concrete cellar at night. Why didn't he just refuse to cook for the criminals? At one point he did, begging for Jack's gang to kill him rather than make any more.

Is Skyler in El Camino? ›

served as key characters throughout Breaking Bad, but they didn't appear in 2019's El Camino for an understandable reason. Skyler and Walt Jr. served as key characters throughout Breaking Bad, but despite a plethora of original series cameos, they were both notably absent from 2019's El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.

How is Todd alive in El Camino? ›

Like Bryan Cranston's Walter White and Jonathan Banks' Mike Ehrmantraut, Todd is brought back from the dead via flashbacks by Breaking Bad creator and El Camino writer-director Vince Gilligan.

Will we ever see Jesse Pinkman again? ›

We Won't See Jesse Pinkman Again After Better Call Saul, According To Aaron Paul. For the last 15 years, Aaron Paul has been synonymous with Jesse Pinkman, the character he originated on "Breaking Bad" back in 2007.

What disease does Chuck have? ›

UPDATE, 3/3: On Monday night's episode of Better Call Saul, "Alpine Shepherd Boy," Chuck confirms that he indeed does suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity. He lands in the hospital after police break down his door, thinking he's a crystal meth user, and his symptoms incapacitate him.

What illness does Chuck McGill have? ›

Chuck is semi-reclusive and believes that he suffers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity. He was amicably divorced from Rebecca Bois, who was unaware of his EHS, a few years before the events of Better Call Saul.

Why is Chuck McGill afraid of electricity? ›

Chuck McGill supposedly suffers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). EHS sufferers claim to be sensitive to electromagnetic fields, which explains Chuck's adverse reaction in the presence of electronics. However, it is not considered to be a legitimate medical condition and has no scientific basis.

Was Better Call Saul cancelled? ›

The sixth and final season of the AMC television series Better Call Saul premiered on April 18, 2022, in the United States, and concluded on August 15, 2022. The thirteen-episode season was broadcast on Mondays at 9:00 pm (Eastern) in the United States on AMC and its streaming service AMC+.

What's the best season of Better Call Saul? ›

3 Better Call Saul: Season 5 (2020) – 9.1

Getting the show counted as one of the best TV shows of 2020, season 5 of Better Call Saul lived up to the later seasons of Breaking Bad in terms of drama and tension, currently sharing the top spot for the series on IMDb as the best Better Call Saul season.

What should I watch after Breaking Bad season 5? ›

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