Monday, October 29, 2012

Tony Mendez for President

Thank goodness for Bill Clinton.

 (My mother is dying right now. Hang on, Mom – I haven’t left the conservative ranch yet.)

If it weren’t for Bill Clinton, we wouldn’t know the story of Tony Mendez, the incredibly brave CIA agent at the heart of the new movie Argo. Mendez devised and executed the scheme that rescued six Americans who escaped the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran in 1979. Clinton declassified the “Canadian Caper,” as it was dubbed, and stories were quickly written about it, including one that caught the eyes of Hollywood producers who brought Ben Affleck on board. Affleck directs and stars in the thriller based on the true story.

You want to talk about courage? Mendez had it. He developed the harebrained plan to have the six hostages pose as a Canadian movie crew scouting a location for a science-fiction movie. He enlisted the help of two friends in Hollywood to find a script and make it all seem plausible, which, incredibly, it did.

I was barely 10 years old when the hostages were taken captive, but I vividly remember the time because one of my neighbors was one of the 52 hostages. There were yellow ribbons all over our neighborhood, and the day he came home, police cars blocked the entrance to our street. I recall my mom having to show her driver’s license to get to our driveway.

Argo is a smart, fast-paced, humorous (seriously, trust me) thriller about a scary time in our country’s recent history. Perhaps the success of Argo will lead to more movies celebrating the bravery and pluck of our invisible operatives, and perhaps one documenting the horror of the 444 days the other hostages were held in Iran. I just wish there’d been a Tony Mendez for those men instead of the inept president we had in the White House. 

See Mom? Still on the ranch.

Disclaimer: The movie's rated R for a reason. It's definitely for mature audiences due to language and some incredibly intense scenes.