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Ben Affleck 'Smartly Directs' His New Movie 'Argo'

Argo tells an incredible true story: How a CIA agent rescued six Americans from the jaws of the Iranian Revolution with a little help from the good folks of Hollywood. Besides directing it, Affleck also stars in Argo.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Moving on, now, on this Friday morning. The new film "Argo" tells an incredible true story - how a CIA agent rescued six Americans from the jaws of the Iranian revolution; with a little help from Canada, and the good folks of Hollywood. Ben Affleck directs and stars, and Ken Turan has our review.

KEN TURAN, BYLINE: "Argo" begins on Nov. 4, 1979, when a mob of Iranians stormed the American embassy in Tehran, and took dozens of hostages. But six Americans secretly escaped the building, and took refuge in the Canadian ambassador's residence. The CIA turns to rescue expert Tony Mendez, played by Affleck, to get them out.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ARGO")

BEN AFFLECK: (as Tony Mendez) The only way out of that city is the airport. You build new cover identities for them. You send in a Moses; he takes them out on a commercial flight.

TURAN: Mendez comes up with the idea of having the Americans pretend they're a team of Canadians who entered the country to do location scouting for a movie. A Hollywood producer asked to help with the deception - wonderfully played by Alan Arkin - is flabbergasted at the prospect.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ARGO")

ALAN ARKIN: (as Lester Siegel) OK. You got six people hiding out in a town of - what? - 4 million people, all of whom chant "death to America" all the livelong day. You want to set up a movie in a week. Then you're going to sneak 007, over here, into a country that wants CIA blood on their breakfast cereal, and you're going to walk the Brady Bunch out of the most-watched city in the world.

AFFLECK: (as Tony Mendez) Past about 100 militia at the airport. That's right.

ARKIN: Right. I got to tell you, we did suicide missions in the Army that had better odds than this.

TURAN: Once Mendez arrives in Iran, "Argo" turns serious again. Affleck, as an actor, is at his best, getting the nervous houseguests to understand the severity of the situation.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ARGO")

AFFLECK: (as Tony Mendez) Where was your passport issued?

TATE DONOVAN: (as Bob Anders) Vancouver.

AFFLECK: Where were you born?

DONOVAN: Toronto.

AFFLECK: Torono - Canadians don't pronounce the T.

RORY COCHRANE: (as Lee Schatz) Some Komiteh guard is actually going to know that?

AFFLECK: If you're detained for questioning, they will bring in someone who knows that. Yes.

TURAN: "Argo" was persuasively written by Chris Terrio, and smartly directed by Affleck. He is especially good at cross-cutting between the different stories; briskly moving back and forth between the houseguests, the Iranians, the bureaucrats in Washington, and the Hollywood types. Americans in the movie have to endure a whole lot more jeopardy than apparently happened in really life. But this is no documentary. It's a major studio motion picture - and a heck of a good one, at that.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION, and for the Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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