The Delana roots in the Mafia go back to its earliest beginnings in Sicily. However, the Delanas have opposed and fought against the corruption and cruelty of the Mafia and tried to separate themselves from its tentacles. John Delana, nevertheless, becomes entangled. The struggles that ensue and the decisions he makes take his life in ever changing directions from fleet champion boxer in the Navy, to prison, into the world of Martial Arts, the glitter of Hollywood, love and romance, and New York politics. Each turn pushes him closer to his destiny, which was long ago determined by the generational transfer of a mysterious power to first-born sons in the Delana line. It will be his blessing or his curse, depending on the choice he makes.
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The heritage of the Delana family, first generation Sicilian-Americans, is traced back to the 18th Century and the rise to power of the original Mafia family and beyond. The family is still deeply intertwined with the Mafia although it has over the years strongly opposed and fought against the corruption and cruelty of the Mafia, and tried to separate itself from the complicated family structure.
The Delanas are different than the other Mafia families. They hold to a different set of values, rooted in the responsibility of a mystical power, a spiritual gift that is passed along by a generational transference to each first-born male in the Delana line. Each son who is gifted with this power must seek to understand its source and the rightful use of “the gift”. It restores the injured, suffering or dying, be they people, plants or animals, to new health and vitality. But tragedy and sorrow are said to follow the one who misuses the gift for gain and glory.
John Delana is the first-born son in line and the power has transferred to him. The size and shape and look of his hands bear witness to the gift according to family legend. But John did not grow up in the hills of Sicily where the legend of the Delana hands has been known and told for centuries. The world that John is familiar with holds no mysteries, only harsh facts of life and survival know-how, and he is determined to master this world with wit, charm or his powerful fists, whichever works best for moment. He tastes power, success, money, romance, love and tragedy, as the unfolding circumstances of his life drive him ever closer to his destiny. While serving a fifteen-year prison sentence for manslaughter following the accidental death of a hoodlum, he learns of the tragic deaths of his wife and brother, after which his behavior turns violent. He spends time in isolation. Another inmate interests him in martial arts and John develops a new style, which he calls “self-offense”. In exchange for a reduction of prison time, he volunteers for a psycho-medical experiment, which nearly costs him his life but brings him to an awareness of the mysterious power within him. After release from prison, his parole conditions force him to cut all ties to his family’s business and organized crime connections. John partners up with a friend to promote his self-offense martial arts style. They become very successful and attract a large following of devotees, including the rich and famous. This opens an unexpected door leading John to the glitter of Hollywood, a love affair with a beautiful starlet, and the intrigue of New York politics. He and Ralph Toomey, a very talented film maker, become close friends while filming “Palace of Power”, an Oscar winning movie, At the height of their success, John walks away to finally pursue the mysterious call of his heart. He embarks on an odyssey from the hills of Sicily to the outback of Australia, and finally comes full circle. Having found peace and purpose, as well as love, he returns home after a ten-year absence to attend the wedding of his son.
"Well John, what do you think?" Ralph asked the question and then sat back and folded his massive arms. John pulled his chair closer to Ralph's bedside.
Ralph and John had put every ounce of their energy, resources and their combined cash into the film that now had only a short way to go before it was completed.
"It's not what I think that matters. We're out of bullets." This was what John called their lack of funds. Ralph had received enough money from investors to start the project and get it moving. He left just enough room so they could keep a handle on all the avenues controlling the direction of the film. They put their own money on the line in order to keep that control until the final completion of the film.
"A lousy two million." Ralph said it while shaking his head. The financing of the film was genius at work on Ralph's part, but he hadn't counted on a heart attack, and the delay had cost them dearly. He had anticipated extra budget expenses, but not this one.
"I'll get the money." John said it with a trace of anger and a hint of dislike at exactly what his source was.
"Oh no you don't!" Ralph bolted straight up and glared at John.
"Hey big guy, you just sit back and relax or you'll never get to light that stinking cigar."
"I don't want their money John, really, I mean it. Not gangster money, not for my film."
"What gangsters? I'm not talking about gangsters here, Ralph. I'm going to my family. There's a difference, a big difference." John said with pride as he jumped up and gave a short funny rendition of a Sicilian grape-mashing dance.
"You crazy Italian bastard. What am I going to do with you?" Ralph roared with laughter.
"Hey, Ralph, you got me into this. I'm just going to get me in a little deeper, but if you have another heart attack, you better die. ‘Cause if you don't, I'll kill you myself". In a lightning-quick move John bent over and kissed him on the head. They both laughed, but underneath was an uneasy sense of something that had gone wrong that neither of them could really change.
Later that evening, John and Rita sat quietly listening to the sound track of the music from PALACE OF POWER. Rita put her hand on John's shoulder and asked him what he was thinking. "I'm thinking of asking you to come to Connecticut with me to meet my family." Rita was not ready for what John just said. She was resigned to the fact that his family was something she had no right to. He never spoke to her about his family and in the two years that he had been with her, he never asked her to go with him on his trips there. "I know so little about you." She said it with a trace of sadness, as if she longed to know more about this man she loved so much. Rita knew that John's wife and brother were killed in a car accident while he was in prison and that his father and stepmother were raising John's son. John told her about it, in one short sentence, when they first started going together, but when she asked him for more details, he gave none. It was as if he had some great sadness locked away that could never be shared with anyone. She never pressed him, and she learned early in their relationship that he was not someone who liked to answer questions. He said what he had to say and left it at that. It was as if questions that were asked of him were a rude imposition into a private life he shared with no one.
"I'd love to meet your family John, more than you know," she added, with a wisp of a smile as she reached over to hug him. "I love you so much," she whispered. "I'm so afraid you'll leave me one day. I'm so afraid of it sometimes I get weak right here." She took his hand and placed it on her heart. He moved closer to her and looked deeply into her eyes that had welled up with some tears.