When making a movie based on real life events, the studio often uses some poetic license to make the narrative more compelling. This often includes leaving out key people, cramming several events into a shorter time frame in order to keep the story moving, or flat out making things up for the sake of making the movie more dramatic. For the Netflix movie “The Irishman,” Martin Scorsese does a pretty good job of keeping it accurate, although for the sake of simplicity it leaves out a few factual points. Here are 10 moments in the movie, although with whether they are true or not.
Frank Sheeran was a WWII veteran
Sheeran served an unusually long tour in Europe – 411 days to be exact – taking part in various battles in Sicily and Anzio. Sheeran stated that witnessing and taking part in war crimes – including the summary executions of German war prisoners – influenced his decision to enter the violent world of organized crime.
“I heard you paint houses” is an actual mob expression
When Hoffa talks on the phone with Sheeran for the first time, he really did make this statement, although it’s not because Sheeran had a reputation for making houses look bright and colorful. It’s actually a reference to the blood that gets splattered all over the walls and floor during a mafia-style murder. It also happens to be the name of the book in which the movie is based on.
Jimmy Hoffa was last seen at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Detroit
Who precisely made Hoffa disappear and where he ended up has been disputed. Some claim he was buried under Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Another says he crushed Hoffa up in a car and subsequently sold it to Japan as scrap metal. But one thing is certain: the last place that he was known to be alive was at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Heights.
Sheeran confesses to murdering Hoffa
It is true that Sheeran confessed to the murder and even laid out the details regarding how it happened. On the other hand, prior to the publication of “I Heard You Paint Houses” in 1995, he had denied any knowledge about how Hoffa’s fate.
Sheeran probably killed “Crazy Joe” Gallo
In 1971, Mob boss Joseph Colombo was paralized following an assassination attempt, with the Colombo family leadership being convinced that Gallo had ordered the hit. A year later, while having dinner at Umberto’s Clam House in New York, Gallo was shot to death out of revenge. Although there are varying accounts over who was responsible, Sheeran insisted that he was the one who pulled the trigger.
Hoffa wasn’t a fan of the Kennedys
In the movie, when Hoffa finds out that President Kennedy has been assassinated, he pauses from eating his ice cream before returning to finish it. In real life, it is said that he stood on a chair and cheered the assassination. Once elected president, Kennedy had made it a mission to bring Hoffa and his guys to justice, with the help of the Attorney General, who just so happened to be the president’s brother Robert. Hoffa was indeed convicted of bribery, but was subsequently pardoned by President Nixon a few years later.
The movie leaves out Charles Brandt’s important role
As noted, the movie is based on the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” which was written by Charles Brandt. Brandt just so happened to be the lawyer who successfully argued that Sheeran should be released from prison early due to his health. Once out, Sheeran shared his life story with Brandt, who then turned it into a book. Given this, it does seem a bit odd that Brandt isn’t in the movie at all.
The movie ignores that Sheeran wasn’t the only one to confess to Hoffa’s murder
The movie leaves the viewer with the impression that Sheeran was the only person who confessed to Hoffa’s murder. But, in fact, more than a dozen have done so, including a serial killer named Richard Kuklinski, and mobster Jimmy Coonan.
Sheeran really did beat up a shop owner who yelled at his daughter Peggy
According to Sheeran’s other daughter Dolores, when Peggy was a child she accidentally knocked something over at a shop. After the owner proceeded to berate her, Sheeran beats the man bloody, even breaking his hands.
Sheeran may have indeed killed Hoffa
However, the only thing the FBI has to go on is the confession itself, not any other concrete evidence. The fact that he made the claim decades after it happened wasn’t helpful. In addition, while the house where Sheeran claims Hoffa died contained blood, it wasn’t a match for Hoffa’s.