Add a Review

  • For those of you that think Blake can only do "Barretta," watch this film the next time it is on television. Blake proves that he really is an excellent actor, when he tries. Blake's performance as Teamster Boss Jimmy Hoffa really does steal this show as this performance was, by far, the best he'd ever done up to that point. Originally shown as a 2-part mini-series, this movie depicts the epic battle between then-Teamster Boss Hoffa and the politically ambitious John F. Kennedy, the charismatic young Senator from Boston. Cotter Smith, a then unknown young actor, gave an equally strong performance as Bobby Kennedy, the younger brother of JFK, an idealistic lawyer himself, who fought for years to finally bring down Hoffa and send him to prison. Sam Groom gave his usual great performance as Senator, then President John F. Kennedy, who told Bobby that he didn't "want to be seen as anti-labor," while grooming himself for a run for the Presidency, wanting Bobby to be careful with his investigation of Hoffa. Glossy at times, this film strives hard to take a tough, gritty look at the battle between the Kennedys and Hoffa and succeeds in most aspects. Sadly, the Kennedys and Hoffa died for their beliefs and, (I believe) as a direct result of this battle. You'll have to see this movie on television as it has never been released on VHS. My rating out of 10: 8.5
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It will be the irony of Robert Blake's decent acting career that despite his stint as Baretta in the Detective Series, his personal life will make people think only of his negative - villainous characters, as in his best performance IN COLD BLOOD and as Jimmy Hoffa in BLOOD FEUD. Fortunately, Blake was such a good performer that his performances in both roles are worthy of being remembered. It's just a pity about his hero parts.

    James R. Hoffa will remain (to most Americans) one of the most despicable figures in the history of our labor unions. There have been other crooked union leaders before and since, but Hoffa is the extreme example, because his Teamster's Union was one of the best run and richest unions, and giving tens of millions of dollars from the pension funds to the Mob for their activities. On the other hand, if you speak to Teamsters, even if they admit Hoffa's failings, they will point out that he was a remarkable figure in improving wages and benefits, and in actually nearly achieving the dream of all union leaders: Hoffa nearly created a NATIONAL contract for teamsters in this country. If he had been honest and achieved these things, say like Gompers or Powderly or Green or Lewis or Reuther, he would have been considered a great man. Instead he is forever a fascinating but twisted figure.

    This film discussed the confrontation beginning in the 1950s between Hoffa and Robert Kennedy, first as an attorney working for the Congressional Committees investigating the union, and later as his brother's Attorney General. There had actually been some impressive work earlier - the corrupt Union Head Dave Beck had been convicted by the Government and sent to prison. Ironically the election of Hoffa was greeted as a new broom sweeping clean. Actually it was more like changing leaders from a common thief to an uncommonly brilliant one.

    In the film Blake plays Hoffa as an intensely intelligent individual, but one who could get emotionally involved to his detriment. Had Hoffa been cooler he possibly might have beaten Kennedy's assault. But Kennedy (here played very competently as a competitive person by Cotter Smith) found that he did not like being defeated at every turn by the Union leader's maneuvers. Possibly had he been cooler he might have noticed that despite the level of corruption there was evidence that Hoffa was actually achieving much for his rank and file.

    In short two amazing men with huge egos turned a government probe into a gladiatorial contest. The key to Hoffa's fall was one of his lower level Union leaders, the head of the New Orleans Local Eddie Partin (Brian Dennehy in a fine performance as a man torn by loyalties who turns on his closest friend Hoffa for his own safety). Partin produced the evidence of malfeasance that Kennedy used to prod Hoffa out of his position of power.

    The end result of all this was mixed - and did not do good for the powers that be. Hoffa became a liability for the mob, because they knew RFK would start on them in the second administration of his brother. And the film does strongly suggest that this may be the reason for JFK's assassination, as the Mob realized Bobbie would not be able to retain his Attorney General position long under his personal political enemy Lyndon Johnson (Forrest Tucker, shown to good affect but not as much as one would like as a man who dislikes being high-hatted by the snobby Kennedy boys). Still Johnson kept Bobbie in his position until Hoffa was found guilty of stealing from the union.

    But his fall from power doesn't end there. In the film, Blake's Hoffa still has contacts with the Mob even as he is headed for prison. And he hears things. The film ends in June 1968, with Bobbie in the hotel in Los Angeles looking forward to the Democratic National Convention. Suddenly there is a phone call, and it is from Hoffa. The latter is about to start his prison term, and feels obligated to warn Kennedy about possible threats. Kennedy won't listen, but Hoffa (if this is true) suggests that maybe at this point they should work together for their own safety. Kennedy, somewhat bemused by the phone call, vaguely says he'll have to think about it. After the phone call ends an aide asks if he really feels there is a physical threat from the Mob. RFK shakes his head, and quotes the poem by Robert Frost, that he has "miles to go before I sleep." Then he heads downstairs for the speech of victory he gave regarding the California primary.

    The film worked very well, with a cast of highly competent character actors. Whether Hoffa really tried to reach an accord with RFK I cannot say, but their duel certainly did neither very much good. And the Teamster's Union has taken decades to recover.
  • Roman1125 March 2002
    This was the absolute best of the Jimmy Hoffa portrayals. Robert Blake even beats Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Hoffa and that's saying a lot. Historically correct, well directed, paced, camera work, and casting. Casting was perfect. The highest tribute I can pay an actor is "he or she did not act the character BUT WAS THE CHARACTER! Looking at Blake was like watching Jimmy Hoffa and Cotter Smith gave the best portrayal of Bobby Kennedy ever. I had the chance to see and hear Hoffa speak in Michigan some time ago. I must state that he was truly a dynamic man.I wish wish this show returned periodically so all could view this magnificent production.
  • Talk about a performance. I just saw this movie on Fox Movie for the first time in years. And I am still blown away by Roberts Blakes rendition of Hoffa. To me he has always been under-rated. But during his recent problems I hear that even though he is a pain in a neck he was always thought of as a good actor.

    Someone else stated that Nicholson is not as good with his performance as Hoffa, I agree. I remember Jimmy Hoffa and Blake comes the closet. Also I think this is much better movie(previously a mini series) then Nicholson's Hoffa. This movie was right in your face and it pulled no punches about Bobby Kennedy. Who I have heard was not a very nice person at all, this movie shows that. No matter how we feel about Kennedy as a politician, as a person he was not a charmer. Over the years his personality has become more well known. All through the movie Cotter Smith who is the best Bobby Kennedy I have ever seen made me want to slap him. I was actually rooting for Hoffa! It did make me think he was so out of reach from the average person that if it was anyone else that was after Hoffa they would of been more successful in getting him.

    When Blake toward the end of the movie states to Kennedy in a tour de force performance of desperation on the telephone, that while he was so obsessed in catching him he forgot about his protecting his own brother I said to myself, he got that right. Kennedy was so arrogant that I don't think in real life it ever even occurred to him. But if Hoffa did indeed say that to him it must of hit him like a ton of bricks. Just like his arrogance about the FBI where in another scene when he gets Bitch Slapped by the Biggest Bitch in the world J Edgar Hoover over Castro's attempted assassination he didn't see it coming. BTW Ernest Borgnine is excellent as Hoover. I don't know why never saw him in that part before or after.

    All in all it is the best movie I have seen about Robert Kennedy and Jimmy Hoffa. But if Kennedy did act this way in real life he comes off as a Patrician who was oblivious to everything around him and was obsessed with a mobster when he should of been interested in other things. I almost wondered if he wanted to become President just to get to Hoffa. Because he let Hoffa control his politics. When actually Hoffa comes off as a person scared to go to jail (gee who isn't)flawed but seemingly loyal to his men. I am not to sure about that. But his son was able to become the President of the Teamsters years later. So maybe his legacy was a good one.

    Good movie. Too bad it is not out on DVD or even Tape!
  • I watched "Blood Feud" when it first aired, do not recall it being a made-for-TV special, it was so good. Robert Blake gives a first-rate performance, superior to that of Nicholson's somewhat too-studied take in "Hoffa." At one point Blake/Hoffa is making a call from a phone booth (yep, a booth, where the doors close) and his rage is memorable--not mere screaming...restrained enough to make it compelling. At least for one viewer.

    Aside from "In Cold Blood," this likely is Blake's best film work. The supporting cast is superb: Aiello, Dennehy, Hendrikson, Borgnine, Ferrer. "Blood Feud" may have been a two-parter shown on consecutive nights. I would love to buy this movie but can't find it.

    Speaking of Hoffa films, Stallone's "F.I.S.T." was a fine but unappreciated effort. It did lousy business; at the time nobody seemed to want to see "Sly" as anything but R. Balboa. And that title didn't help; sounds like another fight movie. But "F.I.S.T." is available and often appears on TV movie subscription channels, unlike "Blood Feud," which is better.
  • Great production values for a TV miniseries. Director Mike Newell shows great gusto in dealing with groups of people, a trait which became even more evident as he went on to "Enchanted April," "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Pushing Tin." The supporting cast does distinguished work.

    Cotter Smith is daring in his first venture outside series TV when he borrows so many of Robert Kennedy's unsympathetic mannerisms, and he certainly can't be accused of holding back. Unfortunately, he's missing the undisputed charisma of RFK and worse, he's up against Robert Blake as Hoffa.

    Evil is always more interesting than good, and Blake has a lifetime of scene-stealing behind him. He's fifteen years past "In Cold Blood" here, and at the top of his game. He's a madman spouting hypocrisy so well that while he's talking you might believe him. You definitely can't take your eyes off him. In the acting duel, as opposed to real life, Kennedy doesn't stand a chance here.

    So it's worthwhile viewing, but remember afterwards, after Kennedy was killed by a Palestinian gunman, RFK's lifetime of work for civil rights and against crime left the world a better place.

    And as Jimmy Hoffa slumbers peacefully under the 50-yard line at Meadowlands Stadium, remember that he stole recklessly from his union membership, and connived at far worse crimes than that. Nixon may have pardoned him, but we don't have to.
  • So many people have played Jimmy Hoffa over the years, but I thought Robert Blake did the best characterization I've seen. All of the other actors who played him seemed like those actors portraying Jimmy Hoffa. Blake actually disappears into the part.

    So why is this old film forgotten and never shown? Two reasons, probably. First, it was a made for TV movie and so many of those are buried in obscurity and rights problems. The other reason is the fact that Blake plays Hoffa, and since the scandal of him possibly/probably being mixed up in the oh so convenient death of his wife, though acquitted, so many of his appearances have just been relegated to obscurity.

    The actor playing Robert Kennedy was actually pretty good too. It helped that actor Cotter Smith looked a great deal like Kennedy to begin with. Of course, some things were over dramatized and outright fictional for the sake of dramatic license, but still, if you ever get the chance to see it, I would say it is time well spent.
  • A Crusade against communism isn't working so the senators decide to pick on the unions instead. Newly installed Teamster president Jimmy Hoffa is on target as soon as he forced his indolent predecessor out. Unlike the Kennedys who'd like to appear to be pro-labour, Hoffa is a 100% pro union, winning in 1960 the best wage increase ever in an industry wide pact.

    Enter snivelling Bobby Kennedy. He's out to get Hoffa by hook or by crook. Are they bound for mutual self-destruction? There's an excellent view of the utter cynicism in the hidden back passageways of power: "we can't fight communism so lets bust unions," says one Senator to John Kennedy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The dream was a three-hour-plus TV miniseries centering on Jimmy Hoffa played by Robert Blake who seems perfect for the role. Well he is perfect, although since this is mostly about Robert Kennedy, all but wearing blue spandex and a red cape, Blake's only allowed sporadic, overly-villainous filler to a propaganda-driven bio of the doomed RFK, which is alright since Cotter Smith does an excellent job playing an important character in fifties and sixties politics, but should have been promoted as a Kennedy meal with Hoffa on the side instead of vice versa.

    This, being a true story, tries for that suspenseful edge liken to fictional mob films, but never quite delivers any real punches. Blake is fun to watch as always, but there should have been a lot more of him.