'The Irishman': How historically accurate is the movie to the closed-door meetings of Frank Sheeran and Jimmy Hoffa?

When it comes down to it, the story of Frank Sheeran, Jimmy Hoffa and all that happened behind closed doors is more a matter of story than a historical record. Thanks to 'The Irishman', it is at least a story that is fantastically told


                            'The Irishman': How historically accurate is the movie to the closed-door meetings of Frank Sheeran and Jimmy Hoffa?

Spoiler alert for 'The Irishman'

'The Irishman', directed by Martin Scorsese with a screenplay written by Steven Zaillian, is a cinematic masterpiece. It tells a compelling story, covering decades in the life of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) and his association with controversial union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).

How historically accurate it is isn’t something that is completely clear, however, as the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa is one of the murkier parts of America's history. 

'The Irishman' references several events and covers details that are matters of public record, fitting the stories of powerful members of the mob within that framework.

So much of the meat of the film, however, deals with illicit meetings held behind closed doors, private conversations held between two, or three men at the most.

It’s hard to say for sure what really happened, most of the time, which makes for great storytelling but also makes determining historical accuracy a matter of some frustration.

Much of the movie’s source material is taken from 'I Heard You Paint Houses', written by Charles Brandt. Brandt was an investigator, who wrote the story of the real-life Frank Sheeran, and recorded much of the former hitman's deathbed confessions.

However, no evidence backs up the testimony given by Frank Sheeran, and other accounts directly contradict the things that Sheeran has said.

Given that other testimonies are similarly unverified, determining who is telling the truth is really just a roll of the dice. According to New York Times journalist Selwyn Raab, as many as 14 people have claimed responsibility for Jimmy Hoffa's death. 

When it comes down to it, the story of Frank Sheeran, Jimmy Hoffa and all that happened behind closed doors is more a matter of story than a historical record. Thanks to 'The Irishman', it is at least a story that is fantastically told.

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