"Fightin's strickly for suckers. Remember that, why doncha."
Mar 10, 2009
In atmospheric New Orleans' Storyville of 1913, Tom Anderson is the undisputed master, running the red-light district with an iron hand, masterfully manipulating those who do his bidding to get their piece of a very lucrative pie. From politics to vice, Anderson is the nerve center of the operation, hand-picking his men with a penchant for violence when necessary. Among Anderson's trusted cadre, Francis Muldoon serves various purposes, reporting on incidents as well as any usurpers on Anderson's turf. A mere shadow of his former self, a significant wound has slowed Muldoon's once formidable gait and given him a marked limp. Dealing with his own emotional problems, Francis works his night shifts, collecting crib keys as required. That is, until he runs across a beautiful young singer who is working for Anderson's competition, Muldoon indulging in fantasies that are unlikely to come true any time soon.
Muldoon is brought up short when he realizes that Anderson has a very personal interest in the songstress, a history that goes back to an unflattering and highly disturbing episode when she lived in Anderson's home as a child, her mother the big man's mistress. The singer, who currently calls herself Adele, is no passive observer; and given her past with Anderson, revenge may be a motivation in her endeavors. As issues and participants collide, Storyville is revealed in all its decadence, exploitation and greed. Dark forces are at work when control of the district is at stake, Muldoon and Adele caught in a maelstrom of violence and unexpected revelations, a conflict of epic proportions on the horizon. At the heart of Muldoon's awakening, no matter how convoluted the plot in delivering the coup d'grace, is that the women of the district are essentially damaged goods by the time they arrive, simply playing out the rest of lives already turned bad. Storyville has its own rules and happiness is never an option. It is this fact that Muldoon resists in his foolish affection for Adele.
Rather than the more benign historical perspective of Anderson as Storyville's wheeler-dealer extraordinaire, Turner's limping and ineffective Muldoon has reason for cynicism: "It had occurred to him... that he worked among dead people, and that the district itself was a kind of giant charnel house, bordered by its formal cemeteries." Indeed, Anderson is the evil architect, building his success upon the broken backs of others, discarded when their usefulness is over. Storyville is not the brilliant, laughter and alcohol-fueled celebration of wine, women and jazz, but rather the dregs of humanity shuffling slowly to their uniquely macabre dance, the tune played by one man, impervious to anything but his own greed. Muldoon's moment comes at the cost of his illusions, his only option to flee from that which would only destroy him. Luan Gaines.