Hoffa (1992) - CoverUps.com

The Conspirators

Jimmy Hoffa: Jack Nicholson
Bobby Ciaro: Danny DeVito
Mafia Leader: Armand Assante
Frank Fitzsimmons: J. T. Walsh
Bobby Kennedy: Kevin Anderson

 

The Mastermind

Directed By Danny DeVito.
Written By: David Mamet.

Running Time: 138 Minutes.
Rated PG-13 (for violence and language).

Memorable

Never let a stranger into your cab, your home or your heart – unless he is a friend of labor.” - Jimmy Hoffa to his confidant


“Fire all those c—k suckers now.  If you do it all at once, the ones left will be grateful. If you do it piecemeal, they will resent you.” - Jimmy Hoffa advising a Union guy how to make cutbacks. 

CoverUps.com Rating: 4 UFOs

Matt DeReno
CoverUps.com Staff Writer

(Feb. 10, 2007) - The mysterious presumed death of Jimmy Hoffa has yet to be officially resolved or concluded.  The movie concerns a recreation of the events that led to the rise of Jimmy Hoffa and a theory on how he was killed in 1975.  In the movie, the explanation is simple: he was waiting for a meeting to smooth out problems with the mafia and then they had him whacked.  Fittingly perhaps, the whole car he was arrived in was driven into the back of a big rig, with he and his dead partner and gone forever.  

Hoffa is a rise and fall epic about one of the most powerful and interesting personas in American history, Teamster boss, Jimmy Hoffa (Jack Nicholson), who helped shape and change the nature of organized labor.  The International Brotherhood of Teamsters rose to become a powerful organization with Hoffa at the helm.  Rampant rumors of many reported mafia ties and associations and strong arm tactics helped him do so along the way.  Hoffa disappeared in 1975 and rumors abound even today about what really happened to him.  Here is what this movie thinks…

The film begins with both Jimmy Hoffa and Bobby Ciaro (Danny DeVito) waiting outside of a truck stop diner.  Ostensibly, they are trying to hammer out a last minute pie-in-sky deal that would save Hoffa’s prominence. The alleged meeting was with an unidentified mobster (Armand Asante) to regain control of the Teamsters.

As they wait for him to presumably arrive, a series of flashbacks take us on a journey in time, through all the milestones and turning points that brought the driven Hoffa and his organization to power.  He is portrayed as a great flawed man.    
In the movie’s present time, Hoffa is mad that as a condition of his pardon (granted by the Nixon administration) and release from jail, he is not allowed to ever serve in the Teamster’s organization again.  The movie conjectures that Hoffa would have never agreed to his early release from jail had he known it would have required him to give up his leadership role in the Teamsters.  As a result, he wants the current leader of the Teamsters killed by his own mafia contact (Armand Asante), who tells him that it is simply too hot for him to handle. 

Hoffa is flawlessly acted, well directed and marks DeVito as a director to be taken seriously.  Jack Nicholson delivers, as he normally does, a signature performance as Hoffa and he is perfectly cast. 

The best parts may be the scenes between Hoffa and Bobby Kennedy (Kevin Anderson).  You have two American icons at opposite ends of the cultural Ying and Yang so to speak, squaring off against each other and I found it mesmerizing.  Together they could not represent more divergent upbringings, paths to power and vested interests.  Yet, they both undeniably made their points in their mostly verbal and legal vendettas against each other. 

It seemed preordained that such powerful man from such divergent backgrounds would have to lock horns.  There was no way they could not hate each other.  However, I got a sense they might begrudgingly see a little of themselves in each other.  Both were driven, rooted in deep longstanding traditions; Hoffa’s in labor, Kennedy’s in aristocratic power.  I thought these were the best parts of the movie.  

There movie’s theory on his mysterious disappearance is interesting and in keeping with the other great aspects of the movie.  However, it does create some questions.  Here is how the movie explains his disappearance:

As Hoffa sits outside the roadside diner, Ciaro (DeVito) goes inside to make some phone calls to see why their mafia buddy is a no show.  You would think that a guy like Hoffa should recognize that a mafia no show is a huge red flag, but perhaps it is desperation time now. 

In any case, there is a punk kid inside the place acting out a fight with his girlfriend on the lone phone.  More time passes until Bobby strikes up a conversation with the younger man, a trucker, whose rig ostensibly broke down.  Bobby impresses upon the young man that he is someone important with the Teamsters.  The kid is impressed, “You know Jimmy Hoffa.” 

Bobby hands him two coffees and with a smile, sends him over to the Cadillac and tells him to give them to the man in the back seat.  He wants to see the surprise on the young guy’s face when he hands coffee to the famous Teamsters’ boss.  Instead, the young kid pulls out a gun from the back of his jeans (with a silencer somehow) and sends Hoffa to the Truck lines in the sky. 

Bobby realizing what is happening runs toward the car drawing his pistol. The kid turns and puts some lead into him as well.  Then, a big rig truck promptly pulls up and a methodical crew fastidiously loads the car and the riddled bodies into the back of it.  The truck rolls down the highway (a nice evocative touch). Fade out. The end. Credits roll.  Hoffa death solved.  Or, is it?

The death of Hoffa as presented in the movie is fascinating and plausible.  It was quite apparent he had many enemies and had become persona non grata as a powerful man. It is by no stretch of the imagination that he would have been rubbed out in the manner presented in the movie. 

However, the diner scenario seems a little too tricky to have been practical.  Too many things would have had to happen perfectly.  For instance, you would think the mafia would simply take him out as soon as he was there.  Why would they let him wait four hours, when he could have said screw it and left? 

Also, what if DeVito never struck up a conversation with the young kid? What if he never asked the assassin to take coffee over Hoffa?  How carefully orchestrated would you have had to arrange a truck pulling up and not only sweeping up the bodies of Hoffa and Ciaro, but the car they were in as well; not to mention in the very public parking lot of a truck stop dine? 

Was there absolutely nobody else at the dinner that could have seen them kill Hoffa?  All in all, a great movie, with a very plausible scenario about how Hoffa might have been whacked that still leave you with some big what-ifs. Till this day, that is still the legacy of Jimmy Hoffa.

 

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