Hoffa is a 1992 biographical film based on the life and mysterious death of Teamsters Union leader Jimmy Hoffa. Although it chronicles Hoffa's early years in Michigan to his leadership in New York City and Washington, D.C. and his death in a Detroit suburb, almost all of the film was shot in and around Pittsburgh with the city's landmarks (such as Gateway Center in the "Idlewild Airport" scene) serving as backdrops for the various locales in the film.
Jack Nicholson plays James R. "Jimmy" Hoffa, with Danny DeVito playing Robert "Bobby" Ciaro as well as directing the movie. The Ciaro character was actually an amalgamation of several Hoffa associates over the years. The film also stars John C. Reilly, Robert Prosky, Kevin Anderson, Armand Assante, and J. T. Walsh. The screenplay is written by David Mamet. The original music score is composed by David Newman. The film is marketed with the tagline "The man who was willing to pay the price for power."
At the beginning of the movie, Ciaro is seen standing in a parking lot of a diner. He gets into the back seat of a car, where Hoffa is seated. The pair are waiting for others to arrive in order to have a meeting. Ciaro asks Hoffa if he wants to go, and he gives Ciaro a scornful glance. The first flashback to 1935 then takes place.
A young Jimmy Hoffa gets out of his car, and approaches a truck. Inside Ciaro is taking a nap. Hoffa insists that Ciaro give him a ride, while he talks to Ciaro about the benefits of joining the Teamsters. Hoffa gets out at a truck stop, after giving Ciaro his card, upon the back of which he had written "Give this man whatever he needs." A few days later, Ciaro reports to work to find Hoffa attempting to organize the workers. When his boss finds that Hoffa rode with him, Ciaro is fired. Ciaro accosts Hoffa, but is convinced by Hoffa associate Billy Flynn at gunpoint not to kill Hoffa. The pair take Ciaro out to firebomb an uncooperative employer. Flynn is badly burned, and both Hoffa and Ciaro both claim to the police that Flynn was injured trying to save the life of someone in the laundry when the place went up. Flynn dies a few moments later, and Ciaro soon becomes Hoffa's associate.
The movie shifts back to Hoffa and Ciaro waiting in the car. They talk for a few moments about the old days when the two first met. The movie then shifts back to a Teamsters strike. When the strikers get in a fight with police, Hoffa is taken by a pair of mobsters to meet with the local Mafia boss. Ciaro, who speaks Italian, accompanies him. At the meeting, the first alliance between the Teamsters and the mob is formed. At this meeting, Hoffa meets the young mobster Carol D'Allesandro, who would be his mob ally for a number of years.
The rest of the movie deals with the rise of Jimmy Hoffa to the Presidency of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The movie traces out Hoffa's legal troubles from use of Teamster funds and loans to mob figures. The movie shows a Congressional hearing that Hoffa appeared before, and shows Hoffa being questioned by Robert F. Kennedy. Many of the lines used in the hearing scene were taken directly from transcripts of the hearings. During the hearing, tension between the two men is clearly evident in the movie. Over time relations decline even further, especially after Robert Kennedy's brother John F. Kennedy is elected President and Robert Kennedy is named the Attorney General. The poor relationship between the two culminates in an obscenity laden shouting match between the two men in Kennedy's office.
The movie continues with Hoffa's conviction, and his surrender to Federal officials outside the Roman columns of what is actually the Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh. It briefly covers his time in a Pennsylvania federal prison. Ciaro is released from prison before Hoffa, and begins working to get Hoffa released. At a meeting between Ciaro and D'Allesandro the mobster suggests that the Teamsters endorse Richard M. Nixon for President, with the idea that if Nixon wins, a friendly official will arrange for Hoffa's release. Next the movie shows Hoffa after his release from prison, and his anger at learning that he cannot participate in union activities for ten years. D'Alesandro suggests to Ciaro that they meet at a local diner, which brings the movie to the point with Ciaro and Hoffa waiting in the car.
The movie ends by giving one possible explanation of why Hoffa disappeared in the summer of 1975. The book Hoffa was reading at the end of the film is The Enemy Within: The McClellan Committee's Crusade Against Jimmy Hoffa and Corrupt Labor Unions by Robert F. Kennedy.
|Jack Nicholson||James R. "Jimmy" Hoffa|
|Danny DeVito||Robert "Bobby" Ciaro|
|Armand Assante||Carlo D'Alesandro|
|J. T. Walsh||Frank Fitzsimmons|
|John C. Reilly||Pete Connelly|
|Frank Whaley||Young Trucker|
|Kevin Anderson||Robert F. Kennedy|
|John P. Ryan||Red Bennett|
|Robert Prosky||Billy Flynn|
|Natalia Nogulich||Jo Hoffa|
|Nicholas Pryor||Hoffa's Attorney|
|Paul Guilfoyle||Ted Harmon|
|Karen Young||Young Woman at RTA|
|Cliff Gorman||Solly Stein|