Hoffa (1992)


Hoffa is a 1992 biographical film based on the life and mysterious death of Teamsters Union leader Jimmy Hoffa. Jack Nicholson plays James R. "Jimmy" Hoffa, and Danny DeVito, who directed the movie, plays Hoffa's longtime friend Robert "Bobby" Ciaro. The Ciaro character is 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." The movie has an R rating, due to violence and strong language (the expletive fuck is used 153 times).


Most of the story is told in flashbacks, starting with Hoffa first meeting Ciaro and ending with one version of Hoffa's mysterious disappearance. Hoffa and Ciaro are first seen impatiently waiting in the parking lot of a diner in 1975. Others are late for a meeting. Asked if he wants to leave, Hoffa gives Ciaro a scornful glance. The first flashback to 1935 then occurs: A young Jimmy Hoffa approaches a parked truck, inside of which driver Ciaro is taking a nap. Hoffa talks to him about the benefits of joining the Teamsters. He gives Ciaro a business card, on which he has written: "Give this man whatever he needs." A few days later, Ciaro reports to work to find Hoffa attempting to organize the workers. Hoffa blurts out about their ride together and Ciaro is fired. He later accosts Hoffa with a knife, but is persuaded to drop it at gunpoint by Hoffa's associate Billy Flynn. Ciaro joins the pair in the arson bombing of a laundry whose owner has refused to cooperate with the Teamsters. Flynn is badly burned and dies. Ciaro succeeds him as Hoffa's right-hand man. Another flashback shows a Teamsters strike. While strikers fight with non-union workers and police, Hoffa is taken to a local Mafia boss. Ciaro, who speaks Italian, comes along. An alliance between the Teamsters and the mob is formed. Hoffa meets Carol ("Dally") D'Allesandro, who would become his closest mob ally. Hoffa rises to the presidency of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. His illegal activities include the use of Teamster funds to provide loans to the mob. At a Congressional hearing, Hoffa is questioned by Robert F. Kennedy regarding his suspicious union activities. (Dialogue was taken directly from official transcripts.) The tension between Kennedy and Hoffa grows, especially after John F. Kennedy is elected President and brother Bobby becomes Attorney General. Hoffa is betrayed by a junior associate, Peter Connelly, in court. He surrenders to federal officials and serves time in a Pennsylvania federal prison while Frank Fitzsimmons takes his place as Teamsters boss. Ciaro, also convicted and imprisoned, is freed before Hoffa and immediately begins working for his boss's release. D'Allesandro suggests that the Teamsters endorse Richard M. Nixon for President, the idea being that if Nixon wins, a friendly administration official will arrange for Hoffa's release. Hoffa gets out and expects to again run the Teamsters, but is learns that he is forbidden to participate in union activities for ten years. He is furious and wants Fitzsimmons dead. D'Allesandro is unable to calm Hoffa. He suggests to Ciaro that they meet at a local diner. Hoffa and Ciaro are gunned down in the parking lot.