On July 30, 1975, Jimmy Hoffa, the long-time leader of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, was last seen getting in a car in the parking lot of a suburban Detroit restaurant. To this day, his exact fate remains unknown.
Hoffa’s tumultuous and controversial life is the subject of this no-frills documentary, which traces his unlikely rise from working for the Kroger grocery chain during the Depression to his polarizing role as one of America’s most powerful labor leaders. While the film covers all of the peaks and valleys of Hoffa’s life at great length, it is easy to come away without truly understanding what made the man tick. He seemed both sharp and careless, enjoying uncommon organizing skills while repeatedly surrounding himself with people who inevitably disappointed or betrayed him. Hoffa enjoyed uncommon support from the Teamsters ranks, yet in the news footage he comes across as thoroughly lacking in charisma.
The film spends a great deal of time speculating what became of Hoffa’s remains, without conclusive results (internment beneath Giants Stadium in New Jersey is summarily ruled out). To flesh out the story, the film gathers a fairly large collection of former Teamster associates, journalists who covered Hoffa, and assorted biographers to talk about Hoffa. Sadly, most of these interviews are badly shot, with flat lighting and unflattering camerawork that makes the film look amateurish.
The DVD comes without special features; oddly, the DVD packaging neglects to identify the film’s director. An optional purchase.