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The Jazz Man - Recap

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In the summer of 1931, Eliot Ness and the Untouchables were putting in seemlngly endless days and nights against both the illicit whiskey and narotics that were flooding Chicago. One night they are paid a visit by a despondent Captain Johnson of the Chicago PD. It seems as though Johnson just conducted a raid which netted 50 narcotics addicts and one of them happened to be his son Buzz. He asks Ness to talk to Buzz behind bars for him. Ness does so and is informed by Buzz that he got the drugs from a pusher named Peepers. Buzz is released and sent to a treatment center by his father. Meanwhile, Peepers is castigated by his supplier, Sal Rudin, for getting a cop's kid hooked on dope.

Hobson traces Peepers to the Viking Hotel. He and Ness catch the dope peddler exiting a room carrying a shipment of heroin. Peepers fires at them. They fire back and Peepers buys the farm. Searching the room from which Peepers just exited, Ness and Hobson discover that it's being used by a jazz musician named Artie Tresh. Tresh works as a bass violinist at Club 88 which happens to be owned by Sal Rudin. Ness and Hobson arrive at the club to talk to Tresh but Rudin informs them that Tresh has been fired and is headed for New Orleans.

On the night of August 11, 1931, Artie Tresh boards the Magnolia Special bound for New Orleans. He gets shot in his compartment by Wally, a torpedo who works for Rudin. Ness, who was traveling on the same train, discovers the body and arranges for it to be shipped back to Chicago to the morgue where it's identified by an African-American trumpet player named Howl Temple. Temple knew Tresh from their jazz playing days on the road.

Ness then makes an executive decision. He will go undercover as Tresh down to New Orleans since the narcotics flooding Chicago appear to be coming from that city. Once there, Ness meets with booking agent Russ Bogan who is suspicious. Then he meets with a violin maker named Karl Reisling. That night, he goes to a jazz club called the Purple Elephant located on Bourbon Street. He meets a singer named Lorna Shaw and deduces that she's an addict. Ness/Tresh then asks Lorna to procure him some dope.

Lorna contacts Bogan who's the source of the dope. He tells her to call up Tresh because he wants to give it to him--a bullet not the drugs. But before Ness can go to the meeting place he gets a couple of unexpected visitors. No, it's not Frank Nitti and Jake Guzik but Lee Hobson and Enrico Rossi who have followed Sal Rudin down to New Orleans from Chicago. Then Ness goes down the street to meet Lorna. Hitman Wally draws Ness into his crosshairs but Lorna pushes the rifle at the last second causing the shot to miss. Bogan tosses Lorna down the stairs. She gets a fractured skull.

Rico is tailing Rudin and follows him into the Purple Elephant where he meets with Bogan and Wally. Wally recognizes Rico so they slip out the back way. Guessing that the violin maker, Reisling, is the weak link in their organizational chain they decide to send him to play a harp with the angels. They head for Reisling's shop and break in. Reisling has gone out for the evening to a concert.

Meanwhile, Ness and Hobson have figured out the smugglers' methods. The drug shipments are cleverly concealed inside bass violins. They rightly guess that only a master violin maker could construct such an item and they too head for Relsling's shop. Bogan, Rudin, and Wally get the surprise of their lives when Ness and Hobson enter the violin shop instead of Reisling. Wally fires but misses. Ness guns him down. Cowardly Sal Rudin surrenders to Hobson but Bogan flees to the basement. Ness pursues and grabbing a bass violin and using it as a shield, forces Bogan to run out of ammunition. Ness takes him into custody and then picks up Reisling when he returns home an hour later.

Reisling and Rudin were convicted of narcotics trafficking and got prison terms. Russ Bogan was tried as an accessory to the murder of Artie Tresh and got something even stiffer--the electric chair at Joliet.

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