Friday, October 12, 2012

"Argo" One of the Best of 2012


“Argo” a Feel-Good Movie for USA, Canada

By Skip Sheffield

If “Argo” weren’t based on actual events one might be tempted to dismiss it as too far-fetched.

A daring rescue did occur in Tehran, Iran in January of 1980. A CIA “exfiltration specialist” named Tony Mendez led a group of six Americans from the Canadian Embassy where they had been hiding to a Swiss Air flight to freedom.

Mendez wrote a book about his CIA experiences titled “Master of Disguise.” In 2007 Joshua Berman wrote the article “How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran.”

Screenwriter Chris Terrio used both sources to create the script for “Argo,” directed by and starring Ben Affleck. This is by far Affleck’s best work both as actor and director. He had a lot of help from a crack team of Hollywood professionals, starting with Alan Arkin as the wise-cracking veteran producer Lester Siegel.

“Argo” is the name affixed to the phony script used to fool Iranian officials.

“This is the best bad idea we have,” admitted CIA operative Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston).

On Nov. 4, 1979 the American Embassy in Tehran was besieged by rioting supporters of the Ayatollah, a strict Islam cleric who took over Iran after the Shah fled to the United States. Fifty-two Americans were taken hostage. Six Americans managed to slip out the back and were granted refuge at the Canadian Embassy. This was the darkest era of the Carter Administration. The hostages would end up spending 444 days in captivity, fearing for their lives.

The rescue of six Americans was a tremendous morale-booster, but it could not be publicized for fear of reprisals against Canada. This operation would not have been possible without the express cooperation of Canada, which supplied fake Canadian passports to the Americans. Canadian Ambassador Kenneth D. Taylor (Victor Garber) risked his life and his country’s reputation to save the Americans, but the story was not declassified until 1997.

“Argo” crackles with edge-of-the-seat suspense and a surprising about of comic relief from actors like John Goodman, Kyle Chandler, Michael Parks and Clea DuVall.

“Argo” is not only one of the best-realized films of 2012 so far, it is the feel-good movie of the year. You may want to hug a Canadian after seeing this film.

No comments:

Post a Comment