Our Weekly Entertainment Dispatch
The CIA brings filmmaking to another level
As America once again is engaged in a battle of wills with the terror sponsoring state of Iran, we are reminded of the 2012 film Argo. Argo is a movie about a fake movie. A fake movie that was the cover story for a CIA operation that bought 6 Americans home from Iran.
As the Shah was disposed in Iran in 1979, (surprising US intelligence…again) there was a mad scramble for Americans to get out of the country. The embassy fell and over 52 hostages were taken. This became the infamous hostage crisis that went on for years until the threat of the incoming Regan Administration caused their release in 1981. Six Americans were able to escape the U.S. Embassy and sneak into the Canadian Ambassador’s residence. They remained hidden there, trapped by the Islamist Regime that now controlled Iran. This less know group of six were the basis for Argo.
The CIA, working with the Canadians, came up with an unusual plan. Infiltrate the country posed as filmmakers, get the Americans hiding in the Canadian Embassy, and get them out posing as part of the production crew. Of course, the CIA didn’t have a film production company, a script, any knowledge of the industry, or confidence this plan would work.
Ben Affleck directed, produced, and starred in the film, playing the lead role of Tony Mendez (the real CIA operative who helped run the op and write the story). An all-star cast including John Goodman, Allen Arkin, and Byran Cranston fill out the ensemble. Argo was highly regarded, it won the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Editing. Arkin was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
Argo opens with a frightening action scene. It shows the embassy being overrun as terrified staffers and Marines can only watch. The six staffers run on foot to the temporary safety of the Canadian Ambassador’s home, where they are trapped. The film then pivots to the exfiltration operation.
The film shows both newsreel footage and scenes from the Iranian coup and hostage crisis. It is a stark reminder of the current state of the Middle East as we see protesters mobbing US Embassies around the region. After the CIA’s initial failure to recognize the fall of the Shah, they pull together a remarkable plan to get the trapped Americans. Hopefully we can see a similar success story in Gaza.
Argo runs about 2 hours and has a little bit of everything, action, drama, some comedy, and a bit of old-fashioned patriotism (a rare commodity in Hollywood these days). It can be a bit slow at times, but it sets up a great ending while giving some personal insight to the people involved in the crisis. It can be found for rent at all the major streaming services for $4. It’s a solid film that shows the dedication and ingenuity of the CIA and State Department employees. Well worth watching as we are counting on these same agencies to pull the world back from the brink of regional war.
Enjoy the movie and support your local police!