The True Story Behind the Movie The Irishman

By Alejandro de la Garza

In Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, union leaders and mob bosses are nearly indistinguishable, morality fades into a mass of conflicting allegiances and close friends can be more dangerous than bitter enemies. This is a crooked mid-century world where truth is never certain — be it in the promises of the Cosa Nostra or the credibility of the film’s narrator, Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a man whose assurances to his family are as much in doubt as his admissions to the audience.

Based on the best-selling book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt, The Irishman (which opens Nov. 1 in limited theaters, then streams on Netflix Nov. 27) shows Sheeran’s sordid journey through both the Philadelphia mob underworld and the only slightly less corrupt Teamsters union, led by its brash, charismatic president Jimmy Hoffa. The general outlines of that story are a matter of public record; the specifics are based on the real Sheeran’s own description of events to Brandt. In that telling, Sheeran sits at the center of some of the most sensational crimes of his time, and has a hand in a few others. In all those cases, definitive facts …read more