If you haven’t seen the Irishman or aren’t old enough to know about Jimmy Hoffa, beware of spoilers ahead!
The Irishman and Mob Boss Sammy the Bull
Based on the true-life events surrounding the unsolved disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, Martin Scorsese’s 2019 Netflix hit the Irishman captivated audiences, goombas, godfathers and made men alike. But one former mob boss wasn’t a fan. In New York’s seedy underbelly, Salvatore ‘Sammy the Bull’ Gravano infamously worked for the Gambino crime family. Of which, the most notable boss was the criminal mastermind John Gotti.
That is, until 1990 when Sammy the Bull turned state’s witness against Gotti and the Gambino crime family. In his testimonial confession, Sammy the Bull admitted to being a component in 19 murders. Subsequently, Gotti died in prison rarely seeing the light of day. Sammy the Bull became the highest ranking member of the New York ‘Five Families’ to break his blood oath and flip.
After entering the Witness Protection Program in 1994, Gravano broke his silence again and stepped out into the open. No fear, no worries. He left the Witness Protection Program for a freer independent life unconstrained by government monitoring. Gravano spoke openly with interviewers and magazines, even Diane Sawyer.
Just recently in an interview with Vulture, former mob boss Gravano topped off his stories of failed hits and bribery with a few critiques of Scorsese’s film the Irishman.
“It wasn’t as well done as I thought it would be, with everyone who was in it,” Gravano said. “They could’ve did a much better job. You know, they’re all big actors when it comes to Mafia movies, stuff like that.”
He’s not wrong. Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino have all made their mark. And while many loved Scorsese’s film, it’s understandable to be disappointed considering the level of quality movies like Goodfellas and the Godfather reached. They’re in a league of their own, and the Irishman appears differently. But Gravano’s main complaint with the film was its inaccuracies.
“The story was wrong. It was all done wrong!”
Even more specifically, Jimmy Hoffa’s killer.
“The Irishman did not do the shooting. He’s not the guy who killed Jimmy Hoffa,” Gravano said.
If the Irishman didn’t kill Hoffa, then Scorsese’s film has a glaring plot hole. After all, the movie is literally named after the man who potentially had a hand in whacking the union leader.
Pushing the Irishman film aside, it’d be impossible to not lean forward and tune your ears to hear the one answer we all want to know from the former mob boss. Who did it, then?
“From what I understood it was given to Tony Provenzano, who was a very powerful captain of the Genovese family,” Gravano said. “And his man, his guy Sally-something-or-other, whatever the fuck his name was. I can’t think of it. Sally Bugs. From what I understood, he was the guy who actually killed Hoffa.”
That is a major discrepancy. And it is stunning to hear it from such a high-ranking member (former or not) of the Gambino family. But truth be told, as of right now it is impossible to say with 100% certainty who really killed Hoffa. To say it was done wrong definitely throws a wrench in the film’s gears, but currently the theory remains just that: a theory. Scorsese took a different theory and ran with it. Had Scorsese written the film around Sally Bugs, titled it Sally Bugs and depicted Sally Bugs killing Hoffa, more likely than not others would step forward and stamp it as false. Some may even say, “the Irishman killed him.”
It still makes you wonder. Gravano is a reliable source. Not only is he coming from the inner workings of the mob itself, but also from the very top looking down with a bird’s eye view. If anyone truly knows what happened to Hoffa, it might very well be Gravano.
A few months back I reviewed the Irishman, myself. Check it out if you need a few reasons to sit down and watch it all the way through. If you found it a little too long, Mr. Gravano agrees with you. And so do numerous other viewers. While the Irishman raked in a heap of streamers upon it’s release, some reports weeks later showed that less than 20% of accounts actually finished it.
Numbers change and it’s hard to speculate how many people actually viewed the Irishman entirely, but you’re not alone to think it too long. And if you find it inaccurate too? You’re in good company with Salvatore ‘Sammy the Bull’ Gravano.
Though some mobster-movie fans’ opinions on the Irishman respectfully differ from Mr. Gravano’s, he is a fan of Goodfellas. The 1990 film was also done by Scorsese and featured Robert De Niro.
“That’s the way we lived. It had a lot of truth.”
And if Mr. Gravano were willing to do an interview with us and talk more about the ‘truth’ in Goodfellas …
… We’re certainly all ears.
What are your thoughts on the Irishman? Tweet us @theHoneypop and let us know!
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