Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Danny DeVito|
|Produced by||Caldecot Chubb
Edward R. Pressman
|Written by||David Mamet|
|Music by||David Newman|
|Cinematography||Stephen H. Burum|
|Edited by||Robert C. Jones|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
Hoffa is a 1992 French-American biographical crime film directed by Danny DeVito and written by David Mamet, based on the life of Teamsters Union leader Jimmy Hoffa. Most of the story is told in flashbacks before ending with Hoffa's mysterious disappearance. Jack Nicholson plays Hoffa, and DeVito plays Hoffa's fictional longtime friend Robert "Bobby" Ciaro, an amalgamation of several Hoffa associates over the years.
Jimmy Hoffa and Bobby Ciaro are impatiently waiting in the parking lot of a roadhouse diner on July 30, 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 Hoffa approaches a parked truck, inside of which driver Ciaro is taking a nap. Hoffa pitches 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 Bowie 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.
James R. 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.) A loud and bitter feud between Kennedy and Hoffa grows, especially after John F. Kennedy is elected U.S. President and brother Bobby becomes Attorney General.
During a hunting trip with organized crime figures, Hoffa discusses ways to exploit the union's pension fund. Having no paper with them, the plans are sketched on the back of a hunting license. Subsequently, Hoffa is betrayed by a junior associate, Peter Connelly, who testifies at Hoffa's trial. The critical evidence against Hoffa is the hunting license on which the plans to raid the Teamster's pension fund were written. Hoffa surrenders to federal officials and serves time in a Pennsylvania federal prison while Connelly's uncle, Frank Fitzsimmons, takes over 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 in exchange for Teamster endorsement, Hoffa will receive a presidential pardon.
Hoffa gets out and expects to again run the Teamsters, but learns that one of the conditions of his release is that he is ineligible to run the union for ten years. Hoffa meets with D'Allesandro and is shown screaming at the gangster, wanting Fitzsimmons killed. D'Allesandro believes that Hoffa is "too hot" and says, "I can't get close to it." Hoffa leaves with the matter unresolved.
Some time later, Ciaro delivers a message to D'Allesandro that unless the matter of Fitzsimmons can be settled (the implication being that Hoffa wants Fitzsimmons either removed from office or killed), Hoffa will go to the press. D'Allesandro says to tell Hoffa that "everything's gonna be all right" and also that Ciaro should tell Hoffa that they should all meet the next day at "the roadhouse," a remote diner.
Hoffa and Ciaro spend several hours waiting in the parking lot but D'Allesandro never arrives. A purported union driver has been waiting for hours in the diner, allegedly for a part for his truck, engaging Ciaro in conversation. He is invited to meet Hoffa in person by bringing a cup of coffee to the car. The driver reveals himself to be a hit man as he draws a gun. Hoffa and Ciaro are gunned down in the parking lot. The hit man and his associates put Hoffa and Ciaro's corpses in hitman's car, puts it inside the associates' semi-truck and drive off to an unknown location.
- Jack Nicholson as James Riddle "Jimmy" Hoffa
- Danny DeVito as Robert "Bobby" Ciaro
- Armand Assante as Carol "Dally" D'Allesandro
- J. T. Walsh as Frank Fitzsimmons
- John C. Reilly as Peter "Pete" Connelly
- Kevin Anderson as Robert F. Kennedy
- Frank Whaley as Young Trucker in Diner (credited as Young Kid)
- John P. Ryan as Red Bennett
- Robert Prosky as Billy Flynn
- Natalia Nogulich as Jo Hoffa
- Nicholas Pryor as Hoffa's Attorney
- Paul Guilfoyle as Ted Harmon
- Karen Young as Young Woman at RTA
- Cliff Gorman as Solly Stein
- Bruno Kirby as Comedian (uncredited)
- Jon Favreau as Extra (uncredited)
- Tim Burton as Corpse (uncredited)
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 police pullover scene, and the Mellon Institute depicting government buildings) serving as backdrops for various locales. The diner scenes were shot at an actual diner that was built then destroyed on Rt. 72 in Hampshire, Illinois. In real life, the place where Hoffa was last seen, the Machus Red Fox, was an upscale restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, not a roadhouse or diner. The riot scenes were filmed in Chicago at the old Central Manufacturing District (then used as Spiegel Warehouses) at Pershing and Damen.
The film debuted at no. 5 at the US box office.
Hoffa earned two Oscar nominations for Cinematography and Makeup. Nicholson's performance sharply divided critics, with the actor receiving both a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor and a Razzie nomination for Worst Actor. DeVito also received a Razzie nomination for Worst Director. Ultimately, none of the nominated awards were won. The film was also nominated for the Golden Bear at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival.
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