Well…maybe. Oh, sure, hearing it right out of De Niro’s mouth in an interview with The Observer lends the titular claim a measure of credibility, but Scorsese and Bobby have been talking about making a film based on Charles Brandt’s novel I Heard You Paint Houses: The Biggest Hit in Mob History for nearly half a decade. So basically, until the production gets put on a schedule and starts shooting in earnest, I strongly suggest taking De Niro’s comments on the matter well-salted– though I will say without hesitation that the promise of both men teaming up to tell the tale of Frank Sheeran’s alleged killing of Jimmy Hoffa is tantalizing to say the least.
Let me take things back to the beginning by reproducing the quote in question from De Niro’s chat with Killian Fox:
You made eight films with Martin Scorsese, starting with Mean Streets in 1973, but you haven’t worked together since Casino in 1995. Is a reunion likely?
Oh yeah, we’re working on something now. It’s called I Heard You Paint Houses. We’ve been trying to get it going for a couple of years and now we’re just trying to set a time. It’s about a guy called Frank Sheeran who was in the Teamsters [a US union] and claimed to have killed Jimmy Hoffa [the controversial union leader who disappeared in 1975]. It’s based on a book by Charles Brandt who was Sheeran’s lawyer. I’d play Frank Sheeran and Pacino would play Hoffa. Joe Pesci would be in it too.
So there’s more excitement here beyond just the thought of De Niro getting back together with Scorsese after nearly twenty years working separately**; Joe Pesci hasn’t done anything noteworthy since Casino himself (save for a cameo in The Good Shepherd, De Niro’s 2006 sophomore directing effort), and Pacino has never ever worked with Scorsese in his life. Taken on their own any of these pairings would be worth our attention and interest, but the idea of each of them intersecting in one big happy homecoming of mob cinema luminaries is really quite fantastic.
But again, it’s also just a phantom of a picture at this point. I’d dearly love to see this get made– even acknowledging the potentiality that the film will simply exist as a desperate last hurrah for some of film’s most iconic gangster tough guys– and I can’t see any roadblocks that could stop Scorsese should he choose to pursue an adaptation of Brandt’s book for his next movie. At the same time, Marty and De Niro have mulled this over for the last four years, so I’m not getting my hopes up just yet.
*Which I recommend reading for De Niro’s thoughts on making Silver Linings Playbook, in which he is absolutely fantastic. You can read Bill’s thoughts here and my own here.
**Admittedly, they were both in 2004’s Shark Tale but only in voice acting roles, and it may be better to just forget that movie anyways.