I got to see "Argo" over the weekend and was favorably impressed, as many others have been. Obviously, the story was exaggerated to create more narrative tension, but it's a well-crafted movie. (That makes two out of two in terms of flicks directed by Ben Affleck, as I thought "Gone Baby Gone" was also really well-done.)
By coincidence, Tony Mendez's book Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA was on sale as the Kindle Daily Deal a few months ago, and I had bought it, so after the movie, I was able to go to the chapter where he described the CIA's underappreciated role in the Canadian caper. You really have to admire the courage of a guy who, in 1980, willingly flew into Tehran on a secret mission to rescue the six Americans holed up with the Canadians.
Seeing the movie did bring back the feelings of anger that I always feel when I think about the Iran hostage crisis. It's pretty well-summed up by the epilogue of the movie, where there's a scene with one of the Iranian hostage takers complaining that Canada violated Iran's sovereignty . . . . But even more, the movie reminded me that in those dark days, we had very few true friends. Canada, of course, took great risks in harboring the six escapees and then giving them forged passports to escape Iran. Great Britain and New Zealand also helped. But that was about it. And when it came to the rest of the hostages, no one lifted a finger to help us. Our "allies" wouldn't even impose economic sanctions in response to the grave violation of the international norms against holding diplomats hostage. (I recommend reading Mark Bowden's Guest of the Ayatollah if you want to get your blood pressure up.)
Anyway, one of the remarkable things about Argo is that it's a tense thriller even though (1) there's virtually no violence directed against the main characters; and (2) we already know how it turns out. That's a credit to Affleck's skills as a filmmaker.
Along a related note, I wonder if enough time has passed that someone could make a killer movie out of Operation Eagle Claw, the failed hostage rescue mission. It's long been a sore point for the United States because of how it ended, but there have been other well-regarded war movies that have had less than a happy ending ("Glory" and "Gallipilli" come to mind). Eagle Claw was stunningly audacious in planning, and Bowden's account of it in his book is gripping -- again, even though I knew the disastrous outcome.