THE IRISHMAN marks Martin Scorsese’s first foray into the crazy world of Netflix, with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino recruited to bring the darkly fascinating story of Frank Sheeran to life.
Based Sheeran’s real-life memoirs, dictated to Charles Brandt in his final months for non-fiction book ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’ The Irishman stars De Niro as Sheeran, a hitman for the Bufalino crime family and known associate of labour union leader Jimmy Hoffa.
Pacino is playing the part of Hoffa with Goodfellas alumni Joe Pesci also coming out of retirement to play mob boss Russell Bufalino. Fellow Scorsese favourite Harvey Keitel has also been recruited for what is the most expensive Netflix movie to date.
What happens in the trailer for The Irishman?
The Irishman trailer captures the moment, detailed in Brandt’s book, when Sheeran was first introduced to Hoffa via a mob-approved murky backroom phone call.
De Niro’s character is shown picking up the receiver to hear Pacino’s voice uttering the immortal lines: "This is Jimmy Hoffa. I heard you paint houses."
Snapshots of explosive violence play out in Scorsese’s suitably operatic style over the rest of the trailer. The official synopsis for The Irishman reads:
"The film chronicles one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history, the disappearance of legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa, and offers a monumental journey through the hidden corridors of organised crime."
Though the story of Hoffa is one known to millions across America, audiences would be forgiven for not knowing much about Jimmy Hoffa or what makes Al Pacino’s depiction of the character essential viewing. Here is everything you need to know.
Who was Jimmy Hoffa?
Jimmy Hoffa is widely credited for the establishment of effective labour organisations in the US. After leaving school at age 14, Hoffa got a job working in a local grocery store. Earning less-than-minimum wage and with little in the way of job security, he was soon inspired to take action, organising his first union in his teens.
By 1932, the 19-year-old Hoffa has risen to become an organiser with the Local 299 of the Teamsters in Detroit. Using a combination of quickie strikes and secondary boycotts he was able to consolidate the International Brotherhood of Teamsters position to become one of the most powerful unions in the United States.
Rising to the role of General President Under Hoffa membership rose from 75,000 to over over 2.3 million members at its peak.
Was Jimmy Hoffa involved in organised crime?
While much about Hoffa’s life remains shrouded in secrecy, it's well established that the union leader was involved in organised crime.
The trucking unions of the time were often controlled by the mafia with Hoffa going to great lengths to accommodate elements of organised crime in Detroit and beyond.
As the union grew, so did the influence of organised crime, with Hoffa accused of illegally arranged several large pension fund loans to leading organised crime figures.
Initially pursued by John and Robert F Kennedy, Hoffa was eventually convicted of jury tampering, attempted bribery and fraud in 1964.
He was sentenced to 13 years in prison and imprisoned in 1967 before being released in 1971 after agreeing to resign as president of the union as part of a pardon agreement with President Richard Nixon.
What happened to Jimmy Hoffa?
Barred from all union activities until 1980, Hoffa hoped to regain support and to return to IBT leadership in the years that followed. However, in vanished in late July 1975.
Hoffa was declared legally dead in 1982 with FBI and state police both suspecting Hoffa was murdered by his mob associates.
Hoffa disappeared on Wednesday, July 30, 1975, from the parking lot of Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township, a suburb of Detroit.
He had told others he was going there to meet with two Mafia leaders: Anthony Giacalone and Anthony Provenzano.
Was Jimmy Hoffa murdered?
It was thought that Provenzano, a fellow Teamster, mob associated and friend-turned-foe, killed Hoffa and disposed of the body without a trace.
In I Heard You Paint Houses, Sheeran offered a detailed account of what happened to Hoffa, taking responsibility for the union boss’s murder and offering key details as to those involved.
The Irishman looks set to lift the lid on these claims and the assertions of Sheeran that a frustrated Hoffa, barred from working for the unions, was murdered by the mob after threatening to go public with their alleged involved in the assassination of John F Kennedy.
Sheeran claims to have supplied the rifles used in the JFK assassination, with Martin Scorsese’s film set to shine a light on these claims.
With Hoffa threatening to go public unless the mob wielded their power to have him reinstated to the Teamsters, the mafia allegedly decided to snuff him out and had his close friend Sheeran do it because Hoffa would not suspect him and it would test his loyalty.
Why did Jimmy Hoffa say: ‘'I heard you paint houses'?
The phrase “‘'I heard you paint houses” was mob parlance for an organised hit. Sheeran was known to “paint houses” i.e. shoot people leaving behind a bloody residue on the wall.
It’s an ironic title given that Sheeran alleges he killed Hoffa in such circumstances, leading him into a room fitted with plastic sheets and shooting him twice in the head before he realised Sheeran had double crossed him.
With Martin Scorsese using state-of-the-art special effects to de-age De Niro, Pesci and Pacino for the film, The Irishman is fast shaping up to be the most anticipated film to hit Netflix to date.
When is The Irishman coming to Netflix?
The Irishman will arrive on Netflix this autumn.