The Irishman is Netflix's latest and most expensive original film till date. Directed by Martin Scorsese, and starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci in lead roles, The Irishman has a clear shot at the Best Picture award at Oscars 2020 next year. If you have already given the movie a watch, you are well aware that it tells the story of the Teamsters Union, leader Jimmy Hoffa, the mob, and the Bufalino crime family of America, spanning across several decades. We segregate the fact and fiction of The Irishman on Netflix. Read on.
Needless to say, major spoilers ahead.
First things first, The Irishman is based on a book called I Heard You Paint Houses. The 2004 novel is a non-fiction work by former onetime homicide prosecutor and investigator, Charles Brandt. While the novel has a ton of deep insights into all elements of Teamsters Union, Frank Sheeran, Jimmy Hoffa, it isn't really entirely the truth, but a version of it.
In fact, union leader Jimmy Hoffa's death still remains a mystery. Over a dozen people, including Frank Sheeran, have come up to confess to Hoffa's murder.
The Irishman FACT
The story of Frank Sheeran's growth is true. He started off as a young recruit in the US Army in 1941, serving in North Africa and Europe. He was part of a lot of war crimes, and finally was discharged in 1945, returning to Philadelphia. He was indeed a truck driver, what he transported, though, isn't known.
Much like in the movie, Sheeran was a blue-chip mafia recruit in the 1950s. He started committing proper crimes for the Bufalino family, including murdering Joey Gallo, a prominent member of the Colombo crime family.
Soon, he climbed up the ranks to become a trusted hitman for International Brotherhood of Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa. Sheeran, in I Heard You Paint Houses, claims that he got an order to execute Hoffa in the 1970s, which he did in a house in Detroit alongside two associates.
The Irishman FICTION
All things measured, The Irishman is completely based on I Heard You Paint Houses, which is only really an account of what Frank Sheeran revealed. According to Harvard professors, Frank Sheeran "fabricated a large portion of what he disclosed in his interviews with Brandt". This fabrication includes the Hoffa confession. This is because there were several other confessors who claimed that they murdered Hoffa at the end of their lives, putting his story as not completely accurate.
"All in all, an astounding saga. Almost too good to be true… No, let’s say it: too good to be true,” concluded Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith of the book.