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Gary Farber
CIA agent Tony Mendez (played by Affleck), who specialized in sneaking operatives, assets, and defectors out from under the noses of hostile governments, was tasked with developing a plan to get the six out.
Haven't seen the movie yet, but that's not what Mendez did in real life. He worked in the Graphics and Authentication Division of CIA's Office of Technical Service.

In his own words:

I had operational responsibility worldwide for disguise, false documentation, and forensic monitoring of questioned documents for counterterrorism or counterintelligence purposes.
He was a planner for technical materials; he didn't plan escapes; he was the guy who went off and directed the creation of material.

I imagine the movie glosses him up to be an operations guy; a movie about him being who in MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE was back at HQ writing memos on how to make those plastic face masks wouldn't be that exciting.

It's the Directorate of Operations, as it was then, that actually worked in the field and ran exfiltrations.

Does the movie actually send his character to Iran? Because in reality the closest he ever came was the Iranian Embassy in Germany. He did most of his work in the U.S. and Canada.

Gary Farber
Samuel Zelanzy.
Er, no. Roger Zelazny. One of the most respected authors the field has ever had. Nominated for the Hugo Award 14 times, won 6 times, nominated for the Nebula award 14 times, won 3 times.

I worked on several of his books in a minor editorial capacity and met him several times, for what it's worth.

Gary Farber

Oh, also, in real life, the movie script was based on LORD OF LIGHT, and presumably the original script was, but it's true that the fake CIA movie movie production was named "Argo." (As in "knock knock, who's there? "Arg." "Arg who?" "Argofuckyourself.")

Gary Farber

No, wait, I take it back. He did go to Iran. Bad memory on my part there. Sorry about that.

El Jefe

Gary Farber,

You knew Zelazny (a little) ? Very cool. Also that you worked in editing (I was nonfiction -- academic & textbooks -- for a while.)

El Jefe

Very much enjoyed the review, esp. now there's the Flight review to contrast above it on the masthead. Of course I'd been waiting for it like blessed relief through the election countdown, too. And like you I loved the movie, from the patina on the old-school Warner Bros. logo at the start through to the compare-and-contrast easter eggs at the end (nice to see something that captured the period well without being pickled.) Although I may be a little harsher on some "Hollywood" aspects of the ending (there's plenty of tension in the purely historical setting if you film it right, and Affleck did more often than not.) Just a trio of thoughts:

- Based on your Flight review I fear Goodman might be noticed more for that role than this, which would be a damn shame, because Argo should get him the Best Supporting (Thaddeus Stephens and Fernando Wood aside) that he should've had for Walter Sobchak (much as Sean Connery got his Man Who Would Be King Oscar for The Untouchables.) Arkin and Cranston were wonderful as usual, likewise all of the Six esp. Clea DuVall. But Goodman, well. He just breathed it every moment, as much in what he didn't do or allowed to happen as what he actively did.

- I loved how they managed to make it the Seventies as well as "the Seventies." Best for that, for me, was the panning shot in Affleck's son's room (who was cast bloody close to the age I was at the time.) Those shelves covered with sci-fi action figures of the day could've been -- were -- my own at the time. Throw in a little early Playmobil from an uncle who'd just been an army officer in Germany and you've got it.

- The Muppet joke was beautifully done. But I have to break ranks and say my only major criticism of the historicity (Chandler was great as Hamilton Jordan btw) was casting Gunton and Hall. (You're probably right about Christopher, but I took Hall to be playing Stansfield Turner, Carter's CIA chief and Cranston/Affleck's ultimate boss.) To take the perspective of Arkin and Goodman's characters we're now used to rumpled Cabinet mandarins based largely on the Republican administrations either side of Carter -- Nixon and Reagan's men. In reality, Cy Vance and ex-Adm. Turner were tall, fit, and chisled, more like off the Central Casting "Generic U.S. President" bench from the decade before -- the 1960s. Indeed in an alternate universe Vance, one of Averell Harriman's fair-haired boys, might have gone that route as a NY Attorney General and Senator rather than a high-powered undersecretary for Kennedy & Johnson.

El Jefe

On that note, one of my favorite likenesses of Vance, looking a bit more like a Canadian prime minister than an American president, but you get the picture:,_U.S._Secretary_of_State.jpg

Also: spot on about Affleck's treatment of the Iranian characters and post-revolutionary politics. Surprisingly nicely done.

And I only fisted the air once when I saw them drop the familiar green, white, and red label of Houses of the Holy on the turntable :)

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