There’s a saying that floats around the independent film world, one that says never trust a movie that features a dozen credits attributed to one filmmaker. When you see written/directed/produced/cast and starring: one person, then you can usually assume that the following presentation could very well be amateur hour. There are exceptions to the rule, however, and Alleged Gangster Rudy Wright could potentially be seen as one. While I personally have problems with the film, I don’t believe they stem from writer/director/everything Andy Pressman. A low budget and highly independent crime story, Alleged Gangster suffers from the same problem that I have found in numerous crime films shot on such a low budget: these movies usually try too hard to be something that the audience has seen before. While the general story has a few differentiations to it, the small scenes that make up the entire movie seem as if they have been plucked from numerous other gangster pictures. Does that make it a bad movie overall? Perhaps not, because this is one that certainly shows a bit of promise from the talent involved.
Rudy Wright (Andy Pressman) is a young white gangster who grew up in a predominately Latino neighborhood. Despite this fact, he seems to have kept his ties to the west coast Italian mafia. After growing up, he becomes a notorious hood along with his best friend Chico. When the two are finally picked up by the law, while trying to buy five kilos of dope, Rudy spends some time in the can. When he walks out a free man, he already knows he has no intentions of walking the straight-and-narrow. Instead, Rudy intends to take over the entire west coast. He plans on making his fortune in the protection business, and after a short amount of time it seems that all of his dreams are coming true. He, along with Chico, become big names in the underworld. As they break off into new profiteering avenues, the police start to breathe down their neck. Will Rudy avoid the same plights that sent him to jail originally, or is he destined for death/incarceration?
The first thing I noticed about the movie was that the acting is surprisingly solid for such a low budget affair. These smaller gangster films, which often feature very limited productions, usually have small budgets that don’t usually attract the most gifted actors. Alleged Gangster is no different in regards to its low budget, but there are least a few actors within the cast that consistently keep a professional atmosphere going. Pressman is actually a talented actor and comes off as charismatic within the role, even if he is generally quite over-the-top. Unfortunately, the character doesn’t make a lot of sense in terms of his back story. Pressman does his best to stress the fact that his character is an Italian mafioso kin to Martin Scorsese’s classic crime dramas, or at least a slightly cliche version of this archetype at least, but this hardly seems fitting for a guy who grew up with Latino gang members. Every now and then his character will use the term "SA," when referring to his friends, but it seems forced and very out of place for this sort of movie. Instead, Pressman’s character is a general mafioso that seems to border on satire. Despite being so extravagant, Pressman sells the character and somehow makes him seem sympathetic.
Despite the talent of the better actors, the film lacks much in terms of originality. This is where the movie runs into most of its trouble. Everywhere you turn, Alleged Gangster continually seems to be making reference to another more well known gangster film. Maybe referencing is a strong word, since what the movie really does is liberally borrow every cliche that the genre is known for. We have the gangster getting out of jail, his girlfriend who wants him to go straight, the big elaborate plan that will make him rich, and enough posturing to make you feel sick. From everyone sitting around saying "salut!" to the general 80s gangster cliches that now seem outdated. This may have been fresh material at one point, but now it simply feels like a childlike vision of the genre. The over-the-top bravado of the cast reaches dizzying heights at times. There is even a scene where a supposed city councilman is approached by a gangster in an alley and he answers the colloquial expression, "hey councilman" with "What the fuck do you want!? You want to talk to me, come to my fucking office in the morning!" Every person who pops up in the movie is a toughguy, even the characters who aren’t mean to be tough guys! From situations such as this, to the scenes where our lead character paraphrases lines from Scarface (Rudy Wright: "It’s my chance to have what I want." His Girlfriend: "What’s that?" Rudy Wright: "Everything. Absolutely everything.") to directly borrowing lines from Al Capone that are best known from the movie The Untouchables, the film begins to reek of inauthenticity.
Alleged Gangster is not a terrible movie, I must say. During the third act it becomes a bit shaky, but for the most part the narrative is very clear and concise. The acting is also quite solid for this sort of production, and the use of black and white photography is also an interesting choice for a movie like this. There are some fun and very distinct things going on within the picture, and I will not ignore that. I think that Pressman does indeed show a great deal of talent and I wouldn’t mind seeing what he does in the future. For now, you can read more about this project via the official IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2402535