The Irishman

This Hollywood film by Martin Scorsese is about Jimmy Hoffa, the leader of the Teamsters Union in the USA. It is an interesting film about politics, trade unions and the mafia in America. The film alleges the election of John F Kennedy as president of the United States was rigged by the mafia to deliver Havana Casinos back to the mafia After the revolution in that country which ousted the Dictator Batista and his criminal associates from the USA. When Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs invasion failed the mafia had him killed. Jack Ruby was definitely a gangster and Lee Harvey Oswald was possibly a foil.

Perhaps I am reading too much into it? I don’t know. There certainly is a scene that depicts mafia involvement in the abortive Bay of Pigs. Fidel Castro’s Cuban revolutionary forces managed to repel this attempt at regime change by the US administration and the CIA. There is a scene where hitman Frank Sheeran (played by Robert De Niro) drives a truck full of weapons to a group of military looking types and exiled Cubans as a favor for the mob to be used in the Bay of Pigs attack. The man he’s supposed to meet at the drop off point is E Howard Hunt and CIA operative who later worked for Nixon to break into the Democratic party’s headquarters. Hunt was the mastermind behind WaterGate which led to Nixon resignation as US president (before he was impeached). E Howard Hunt also broke into Daniel Ellsburg’s Psychiatrist’s office to discredit the whistleblower who exposed war crimes by the US in Vietnam. Ellsburg released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of the U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War.

According to Scorsese’s film John F Kennedy’s father Joe was bootlegger and paid money to the mafia to stuff extra ballot papers during the election. The film says outright that a mafia hitman, Frank Sheeran, played by De Niro executed Jimmy Hoffa because he refused to co-operate with the mafia over money being lent from the Teamsters pension fund. Hoffa had previously given low interest loans to the mafia. He was convicted of fraud and spent about 5 years in prison. However Hoffa was strict about the union’s super fund and would not pay super entitlements to organisers who went to jail for stealing.

There are doubts Scorcese’s film is accurate. De Niro, who actually initiated the project, said: “We are not saying it is the actual story we are saying it is a story.

For $159 million, you would expect a true story.

Also I thought the character of Chuck who drove the car when Hoffa was executed was described as Hoffa’s stepson when in fact he was a long-time associate of Hoffa’s and would have been older than the character looked in the film.

By the same token, a lot of this stuff denying Sheeran’s involvement is pretty speculative.

One of the more interesting parts is how World War II de-humanised soldiers and this is given as one reason for why Sheeran was so callous to kill his friend Hoffa on orders by the mafia bosses.

Go to the toilet before you see this film, it is over three hours long.

It is currently showing at the Elizabethan which is where the old Irish Club used to be in Elizabeth Street Brisbane. Have a look at the ceiling if you get a chance, the lead lighting and gargoyles are great.

Ian Curr
30 Nov 2019


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