Argo: A Cool Movie for the Airline Enthusiast

British Airways’ retro livery at Washington Dulles International Airport. Check. Green-screen check-in systems that look just like…SHARES on United Airlines today. Check.  A Swiss Air 747-200 screeching down the runway at Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport as Revolutionary Guards race after the jumbo jet in Jeeps. Check.

With all the talk about Flight, another movie that has some “groovy” scenes for the aviation enthusiast is Ben Affleck and George Clooney’s Argo, a movie based upon the true story of the rescue of six Americans from Iran by CIA Agent Tony Mendez and the Canadian government during the 1979 hostage crisis.

The truth is often more fascinating than fiction and as someone who has studied a lot of U.S. history, I was surprised I had never heard about this unique tidbit before.

To give you a brief rundown, when Iranians stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, six Americans secretly escaped and eventually sought refuge in the Canadian Ambassador’s residence. The movie tells the story, with some embellishments, about the complex scheme (including a CIA-sponsored move called Argo as the cover) to extract them from Iran. The movie is interlaced with real news footage and features an oral narrative by former President Jimmy Carter in the end, adding to its authenticity.

If you like the 70s, you’ll love how nicely attention was paid to detail—even Mendez’s room at the Tehran Sheraton looked 40 years old. Everything from the cars, to the airline/airport interiors, to the billboards makes you feel like you are in 1979. And the horrible hairstyles…

Argo, with a little Hollywood aggrandizement, is a spellbinding story that will help you understand a bit more about the current state of affairs in Iran and brush up on an oft-overlooked chapter in U.S/Canadian history.


Jeremy November 10, 2012 at 11:00 am

I only found two issues in the film: 1) the shot that "moves" Ben Affleck from LA to DC is a British 747...not sure they were doing that route at that time... 2) the shot showing his British Air flight from DC to Istanbul is actually an A32S... Other than that, a FLAWLESS movie!!!!

Mike S. November 10, 2012 at 01:23 pm

unfortunately, Affleck plays foot loose and fancy free with actual events by downplaying Canada's contribution and over emphasizing the CIA's role

A more accurate telling of events was in the 1981 television movie "Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper"

Darrell November 11, 2012 at 05:40 pm

Just saw it on Friday night. The audience laughed when Ben Affleck, who was watching Planet of the Apes, had to go up to the TV and manually change the channel!

I'll have to check out Argo. Saw Flight over the weekend, and thoroughly enjoyed it..

BRLfly November 13, 2012 at 12:24 pm

@Mike S.,

I haven't seen the documentary you are referring to but it is likely that ARGO is more accurate in many respects. After the rescue it was agreed by all parties to downplay the role of the CIA and increase the roll of the Canadian gov't to prevent national security issues. It wasn't until the late 90s (I believe) that "true" story was revealed when the documents were declassified. I saw an interview with the Canadian ambassador where he expressed frustration over the years of the having to embellish his role in the escape in order to keep the cover story going. He felt bad that Mendes never got the credit he deserved. Now obviously there embellishments as far as: (a) i dont believe the scene in the market ever took place (b) i don't believe Iran discovered the escape and chased the plane down the runway and there were a few other things I noticed but have since escaped me.

John Smith January 16, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Mike S.: That was made BEFORE the stuff stating the true extent of the US involvement was declassified, so that was inherently less accurate. The knowledge of the true amount of US involvement was declassified in 1997.

Having said that it is understandable that the Canadians felt miffed, so Affleck changed the postscript to say that it was international cooperation

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