Argo (2012) Script

This is the Persian empire...

...known today as Iran.

For 2500 years, this land was ruled by a series of kings...

...known as shahs.

In 1950, the people of Iran elected Mohammad Mosaddegh...

...a secular democrat, as prime minister.

He nationalized British and U.S. petroleum holdings...

...returning Iran's oil to its people.

But in 1953...

...the U.S. and Great Britain engineered a coup d'état that deposed Mosaddegh....

...and installed Reza Pahlavi as shah.

The young shah was known for opulence and excess.

His wife was rumored to bathe in milk...

...while the shah had his lunches flown in by Concorde from Paris.

The people starved.

The shah kept power through his ruthless internal police:


An era of torture and fear began.

He then began a campaign to westernize Iran...

...enraging a mostly traditional Shiite population.

In 1979, the people of Iran overthrew the shah.

The exiled cleric, Ayatollah Khomeini, returned to rule Iran.

It descended into score-settling, death squads and chaos.

Dying of cancer, the shah was given asylum in the U.S.

The Iranian people took to the streets outside the U.S. embassy...

...demanding that the shah be returned...


...and hanged.

Based on a true story.

U.S. Embassy, Iran - November 4, 1979

The carnival's a little bigger today, huh?

Windows are supposed to be bulletproof, right?

Well, they've never been tested.

You just need to finish filling out this section here.

We can process your visa.

We need some security. Yes, it's your responsibility.

They're over the walls.

We should all split. I'm gonna close up my office.

Oh, my God.

Marines to Number One. Fall back.

Can anyone hear me? We need help. I need police right now. Right now, goddamn it!

Jesus. Can anybody hear me?

There was a breach.

Just burn everything! Burn it now!

All right, burn everything! All the files, file cabinet, safe.

Let's get a cart over here. Burn it all. Come on.

Burn everything! Burn the classifieds! Everything!

Don't fucking shoot anybody.

You don't wanna be the son of a bitch who started a war.

They need an hour to burn the classified.

I need you to hold.

If you shoot one person, they're gonna kill every single one of us in here.

I'm telling you, if we're going to go, we need to go now.

Okay, we need to make a decision-- Can we wait until the Iranian police come?

No, the police aren't coming. It's been 45 minutes.

How do you know? The police have abandoned their posts.

If the police are not coming, then the army's gonna come.

The prime minister won't let the embassy be taken over.

The prime minister may come tomorrow, but the Komiteh are here today. So we have to evacuate.

Look at me. No one is coming.

Get the desk drawers. Everything. Don't sort it.

Get it down to the incinerator in the vault! Go, now!

Tear gas as a last resort only.

I repeat: only if your life is under threat.

In here, we are in America right now. Outside, we are in Iran.

It's on American soil-- I'm not going out into that.

They're not safe here.

If they get caught applying for visas to the U.S.?

Mark, we are in the only building with direct access to the street.

If we're going to go, then we need to go now. Yeah, I'm in.

Yeah. Yeah, let's go.

I'm going outside. Why?

To reason with them.

Open the door!

Open the fucking door!

You said you wanted to see the world, right, Tom?

Let me in! Let me in!

Burn it all. Come on.

Get the safe, get the filing cabinets, get it all.

All four drawers, I want them shredded right now.

Not gonna shred fast enough.

Grab the visa plates!

All four! And anything else you see out there.

When in doubt, just shred it!

We got 10 minutes! Let's go, let's go, let's go! Everything!

Get the shredder.

There are no police.


Leave the building, go now.

Iranians go first.

Now, hurry!

Who has made this?!

It's done. They're in.

Okay, come on. We gotta get off the streets.

This way. Up here to the left.

These fucks hit us, we can't hit them back? Mosaddegh, we did it to them first.

STATE DEPARTMENT - 7TH FLOOR You think the Soviets would put up with this shit? They'd invade.

We helped the guy torture and de-ball an entire population.

How many were there? At least 50. We're not sure.

Schafer! You still haven't found Schafer?

No, I was screaming his name because I was fucking him.


It's confirmed, sir. Six escaped.

I was told five. No, sir, apparently it's six.

What happened? Not clear. We know they escaped.

SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE Where are they? The Canadian ambassador's house.

Do they stay put? Are we attempting rescue? Hold for the Secretary of State.

Yes. Is White House joining?

They claim the embassy was a den of espionage.

We wish it was. A fuckin' den of espionage.

Cl's got three people over there, they don't see a revolution coming?

WHITE HOUSE, CHIEF OF STAFF'S OFFICE Call it something other than intelligence. Hold for the chief of staff.

Hodding. I'll call him back.

They're sticking. No release till we expel the shah.

Put him on a plane, then. Fuck him. He's half-dead and he's in chemo.

We took him in. He's ours now.

Great, so we'll take in any prick as long as he's got cancer?

No, just the pricks on our side.

So all our other pricks on their prick thrones know when they get thrown out on a rail...

...they won't get their fucking spleens taken out by some camel vet in Sinai.

What about the six who are with the Canadians?

We've got 60 in the embassy with guns to their heads right now.

The whole world is watching the embassy. They're safer than the six on the street.

Banisadr's saying it'll be over in 24 hours.

We leave the six where they are. I'll go brief the president.

All right, let's get to it.

So far official comments about the incident have been a model of restraint.


Iran's Revolutionary Guard has rounded up a gang of terrorists...

...blamed for one murder of a half-dozen followers of Ayatollah Khomeini.

It says security at Khomeini's home now has been tightened.

This, by the way, is the 69th day that the American hostages have been held in Tehran.

There is no change reported in the hostage situation.

In this country, George Meany died last night. He was 85 years old.




WALLACE To begin with, of course...

...we wanted to learn about the hostages held in the American embassy compound.

They may not understand what their ordeal means to their countrymen.

But this nation, their nation, is outraged.

And we cannot really know what it is like inside the prison that was once our embassy.


Actions of Iran have shocked the civilized world.

Our embassy has been seized...

...and more than 60 American citizens continue to be held as hostages.

The situation in Iran this morning is unchanged in regard to the hostages.

NBC's situation in Iran has changed, however.

Is he back there? Office.

What happened?

The six of them went out a back exit.

Brits turned them away, Kiwis turned them away.

Canadians took them in.

Traffic calls them "The Houseguests."

They haven't left the Canadian ambassador's house since it happened.

Why didn't we get them 10 weeks ago? Too dangerous.

You got Revolutionary Guards going door-to-door like Jehovah's Witnesses.

Half of them think that Khomeini's been too lenient on the ones in the embassy.

What about the White House?

Carter's shitting enough bricks to build the pyramids.

The Canadians are done.

They say they're bearing too much risk. Their foreign secretary corners Vance in Brussels. ..

...and told him she wants the six of them out.

Who else knows? Just the families.

Meanwhile, some genius in our embassy was keeping a mug book. ..

...on everybody who worked there. Jesus Christ.

We think it got shredded before they got in.

But now the bastards are using sweatshop kids to reassemble the shreds.

And once they reassemble that book they'll know six Americans got out.

And they'll know what they look like.

Standing room only for beheadings in the square.

Who's handling? State is coordinating in-house.


They don't do exfils. They do now.

They want to run it by us, strictly as consultants.

Engell says it's a lose-lose.

These people die, they die badly. Publicly.

State wants the blame, we'll give it to them.

What does he want me here for?

So he can tell State he ran it by his best exfil guy.


This is Bob Pender from State O.S.

He's been talking to Morgan at ExtAff.

Bob? Thank you.

All right.

Mark and Cora Lijek.

Twenty-nine and 25. He's a consular officer, she's an assistant.

Newlyweds. They only just got there a couple months ago.

No language skills or in-country knowledge.

Henry Lee Schatz. Agricultural attaché from Idaho.

A bit of an oddball, apparently.

He was there to sell U.S. tractors to Iranian agro.

Joe Stafford. Late 20s.

He's smart and a climber.

Speaks Farsi.

He arranged the hire of his wife, Kathy.

Embassy was understaffed, so the faculty wives were the typing pool.

And Bob Anders. Senior consular officer...

...oldest of the group and most likely to be group leader.

They're in hiding at the Canadian ambassador's residence.

Fortunately, we do not believe the Iranians are aware the six have escaped.

So, what we like for this are bicycles.

We've identified back roads from the Shemiran district.

A couple of rat lines through the mountains.. . the crossing near Tabriz.

Cars are off the table because of the roadblocks.

We wait till the weather clears up.. .

...then deliver the six bikes, provide them with maps to the Turkish border.

We have intelligence they can ride bicycles.

Or we're prepared to send in somebody to teach them.

Or you could just send in training wheels and meet them at the border with Gatorade.


It's 300 miles to the Turkish border.

They'd need a support team following them with a tire pump.

We were just asked to sharpshoot this.

State is handling the op.

I'm sorry, who is this?

Tony's an exfil spesh. He got a lot of the shah's people out after the fall.

Sir, if these people can read or add.. .

...pretty soon they're gonna figure out they're six short of a full deck.

It's winter. You can't afford to wait around till spring so it's nice enough to take a bike ride.

The only way out of that city is the airport. Build new cover identities for them. .. send in a Moses, he takes them out on a commercial flight.

We've explored those options. They'll never get past airport control.

Komiteh own the place. They could pose as reporters.

The government issued 70-something... Seventy-four.

...visas for American journalists.

The Revolutionary Guards keep them on 74 leashes.

If they're caught with fake journalist creds, it's Peter Jennings' head in a noose in an hour.

North American accents gives us limited options.

So we get the Canadians to issue them passports.

What about English teachers at the international school?

It's a good idea, but that school's been closed for eight months.

Okay, so how about the do-gooders?

Six Canadians have been over there inspecting crops, making sure the kids get enough to eat.

We give them creds, makes them look like Ag NGOs.

It's a Feed the Kids thing. Okay?

Those kids are black.

Those are African kids.

We get ethnically appropriate kids. Are there starving kids in Iran?

I'm sure there's some skinny kids in Iran, so.. ..

What about missionaries? A logo with seeds. Call it "Seeds of Hope."

Hold on.

Sir, do you have this newspaper in front of you? Would you mind taking a look at it?

What's in this picture?

Tehran. Right. What's on the ground?

Snow. Right.

So, what crops are the do-gooders inspecting under Frosty?

Sir, exfils are like abortions.

You don't wanna need one.. .

...but when you do, you don't do it yourself.

You have a better plan?

No, sir.

REYNOLDS Whatever the conflicting signals from Iran today...

...and for that matter, every day...

...about whether the hostages will or will not be tried as spies...

...the government of the United States has not deviated from its basic demand:

The hostages must be freed.

--claims to defend human rights, it not only does not defend them.. . violates them for all nations.

We demand extradition...


...of a man who, for more than 37 years, with the United States' support...

...has killed months-old babies in the arms of their mothers.

He said if the Americans try military force to rescue the hostages...

...the students will kill them all and blow up the embassy.

Americans were outraged at Iran and anyone Iranian.

Before that decision was taken, there was a demonstration in Houston.

An Iranian flag was burned...

...when anti-Iranian demonstrators gathered near the Iranian consulate.

--also is what led to a decision to scrutinize the visas of Iranians....

They knew exactly what was going to happen. They knew.

But I don't understand what they should do now.

Send him back, just to be tortured and killed?

I don't think that justice is the worst thing.

When did people first tell you that torture was going on in Iran?

They would never come to me and say, "Well, sir, we have tortured this fellow."

President Sadat of Egypt, he calls you, Imam--

Forgive me, his words, not mine.

--a lunatic.

Why didn't he have a choice? Why do you think he didn't have a choice?

He would've been referred to as a barbarian.

That's why they're saying that their current regime....

The shah did more for women's rights--

I think you'd better-- Please, everyone, get into the crawlspace.

At one point, the mob cornered one of the Iranians.

When he tried to protect himself, this is what happened.

Just hit him again!

We're not gonna take it anymore! We're sick of it!


Even in our little community here, I mean, people are drawn up tight, they're tense.

They shouldn't even let those students in that embassy there.

Just shoot a couple of them, show them we mean business.

Men who served in Vietnam for what they believed was right are angry.

I'm mad as hell.

I'm like the guy screaming on that movie program in Network, you know? I've had it.

And if need be, I'll bear arms again.

And that's the way it is Wednesday, January 16th, 1980.

The 74th day of captivity for 50 Americans in Iran.

Hello? Buddy man.

I'll get Mom.

I'm looking for you.

Did you do your homework tonight?

Yeah, it was easy. Excellent. What are we watching?

Battle for the Planet of the Apes.

Tell me, what channel is it on?


All right.

What'd you do at school today? Nothing. I don't know. Nothing.

Can't be nothing. Something must've happened.

After school I got some baseball cards.

Mm-hm. That was fun.

Okay, you know those science-fiction movies?

Star Trek, Star Wars. They need an exotic location to shoot.

Moonscape, Mars, desert, you know.

Now, imagine this:

They're a Canadian film crew on a location scout for a science-fiction movie.

We put it out there--

The Canadian producers put it out there.

--that we're looking at Egypt, Istanbul.

Then we go to the consulate and say, "Hey, we wanna look at Iran too."

I fly into Tehran, we all fly out together as a film crew. Done.

Flamboyant cover identities should be avoided, as it increases operational visibility.

This is more plausible than foreigners who wanna go be teachers in Iran.

You wanna blend in with the population, you don't look like a rodeo clown.

Just gonna wake up tomorrow morning and be in the movie business?

We already have credentials for the teachers.

No, sir, we have a contact in L.A. Chambers.

John Chambers. He's a Hollywood prosthetics guy.

He's got an Oscar, he did Planet of the Apes. Did a bunch of contract work for us in the past.

I go see him, he sets us up. One, two days, make it look real.

I went outside for 30 seconds. Could you give me a break? I can't breathe in this house.

I need some fresh air. I can't breathe. Stay inside the fucking house.

Who saw me go outside? I'm just curious. That's not the point, Bob.

It doesn't matter who saw you go out. Did you see me?

No. I did, okay? I saw you.

Bob, it only takes one second for them to spot you.

Some Americans are missing.

Look at the repaired list of embassy employees.

The numbers don't match.

Finish assembling the pictures from the embassy.

All I need is their faces and I will find them.

Yes, sir, it will be done.

We want you to go to L.A.

If you can make the movie thing credible, we'll take you to the director.

Don't fuck up.

The whole country is watching you.

They just don't know it.

My creation.

My creation.

What the fuck, Brian?

Cut. We're cutting.

What an idiot. It really hurt.

I'm sorry.

Chambers. John Chambers, makeup!


He says the Minotaur prosthetic is too tight, so he can't act.

If he could act, he wouldn't be playing the Minotaur.

Mr. Chambers?

Kevin Harkins.

Hey, Tony.

Watch your head.

What are you shooting?

Monster movie.

Yeah? Any good?

Target audience will hate it.

Who's the target audience?

People with eyes.

Talk to me.

It's an exfil.

From where?

Worst place you can think of.

Universal City.

How are you gonna get into the embassy?

They're not in the embassy. During the takeover, six people escaped.

They're hiding out in Tehran.

And that's who I'm gonna go get. What am I making?

I need you to help me make a fake movie.

Heh. You came to the right place.

I wanna set up a production company and build a cover around making a movie.

That we're not gonna make. No.

So you wanna come to Hollywood and act like a big shot?

Without actually doing anything? No.

You'll fit right in.

Let's see.

Well, this one's got an M.A. in English. She should be your screenwriter.

Sometimes they go along on scouts because they want the free meals.

Here's your director.

Can you teach somebody to be a director in a day?

You can teach a rhesus monkey to be a director in a day.

Look, if you're gonna do this, you gotta do it.

The Kho-maniacs are Froot Loops, but they got cousins...

...who sell prayer rugs and eight-tracks on La Brea.

You can't build cover stories around a movie that doesn't exist.

You need a script. You need a producer.

Make me a producer. No.

You're an associate producer at best.

If you're gonna do a $20 million Star Wars rip-off.. . need somebody who's a somebody to put their name on it.

Somebody respectable.

With credits.

Who you can trust with classified information.

Who'll produce a fake movie.

For free.

Hi. I only got a couple of minutes. I'm getting a lifetime achievement award.

Mazel tov, Lester. Ah.

I'd rather stay home and count the wrinkles on my dog's balls.

Okay, 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.

You want to lie to Hollywood, a town where everybody lies for a living.

Then you're gonna sneak 007 over here. ..

...into a country that wants CIA blood on their breakfast cereal. ..

...and you're gonna walk the Brady Bunch out of the most watched city in the world.

Past about a hundred militia at the airport. That's right.


Look, I gotta tell you.

We did suicide missions in the Army that had better odds than this.

Sir, the car is here.

You ever think, Lester, how this is all for the cameras?

Well, they're getting the ratings, I'll say that for--

We're gonna need a script.

Here, come on, come on, come on.

No, it's fine. Stop.


I love you.

PAT Sahar, how are you doing?

SAHAR Fine, thank you.

Your friends from Canada, ma'am.

All this time. They never go out.

PAT Sahar knows.

How about The Horses of Achilles?

No good. Nobody does Westerns anymore.

It's ancient Troy. If it's got horses in it, it's a Western.

Hey, Kenny, please.

Yeah, it's John Chambers, about the office space.

It doesn't matter. It's a fake movie.

If I'm doing a fake movie, it's gonna be a fake hit.

The cardinal wants all cover options on his desk Friday morning.

Engell's prepping the bikes option, the teachers option.

You have 72 hours to make yours better.


Hey, is A006 still on the open list?

Yeah, I'll hold.

"Fade in on a starship landing. An exotic, Middle Eastern vibe.

Women gather, offering ecstatic libations to the sky gods.

Argo. A science-fantasy adventure."

It's in turnaround. It's dog shit. It's a space movie in the Middle East.

Does it matter? Can we get the option?

Why do we need the option?

You're worried about the Ayatollah? Try the WGA.

Just let me do the talking.

I've known this guy for 25 years. He's full of shit and he comes on hard...

...but I can handle him.

You want to go into production with this in one month?

Up like a carny ride.

One month, yeah.

Who are you again? Kevin Harkins. Studio Six Films.

He's the money.

Look, what do you say 15 thou and let's close on this?

You want me to be honest with you, Les?

No. I would like you to bullshit me, Max.

All right.

I enjoyed your films. The early ones.

I took this meeting out of respect, because I wanted to say no to your face.

Thank you. Very respectful.

You're finished, Lester.

Get your cataracts fixed, read the trades.

MGM just capitalized for six new films.

They're screaming for sci-fi.

They're offering me four times what you guys are offering me.

Well, what can I say?


But, see, it kind of worries me, what you said, and let me tell you why.

Couple of weeks ago, I was sitting at Trader Vic's, I was enjoying a Mai Tai...

...when my pal Warren Beatty comes in.

He wishes me well, we had a little chat.

Seems he was attached to star in Zulu Empire...

...which was gonna anchor that MGM slate.

But Warren confided in me that the picture's gone over budget...

...because the Zulu extras wanna unionize.

They may be cannibals, but they want health and dental.. . the movie's kaput.

Which means that the MGM deal ain't gonna happen...

...and your script ain't worth the buffalo shit on a nickel.

So the way it looks to me--

Through the cataracts, I grant you.

--is that you can either sign here...

...and take $10,000 for your toilet paper script.. .

...or you can go fuck yourself.

With all due respect.

You really know Warren Beatty?

Yes, I do. I took a leak next to him once at the Golden Globes.


Got any kids, Lester?

Yeah. I have two daughters.

You see them much?

I talk to them once a year.

Maybe. Why is that?

I was a terrible father.

The bullshit business, it's like coal mining.

You come home to your wife and kids, you can't wash it off.


Yeah, I got a son.

He lives in Virginia with his mother.

You're divorced?

Taking time off.

He needs to be, you know. ..

...where he is.

Kids need the mother.

They caught the shah's chief of security trying to get on a plane to Paris.


Since the incident, the number of guards at the airport has doubled.

Thorough background examinations should be expected.

The movie cover isn't strong enough yet. I need another week, Jack.

You don't have it.

We got an office.

We got business cards.

We got a poster.

If I'm the Revolutionary Guard, that's nothing we couldn't have made at home.

Six people's lives depend on this.

It's not enough. If we're gonna fool these people, it has to be big.

And it has to have something that says it's authentic.

I did a movie with Rock Hudson one time.

If you wanna sell a lie... .

You get the press to sell it for you.

No, no, no. Press event and then they're gonna read through the script.

Well, they got a bunch of actors, they're gonna read from beginning to end.

They have costumes and everything.

No, no, no, I can't. Variety has an exclusive on that.

Is there any way to make this more Middle Eastern?

Mesopotamia? Egypt?


Look, I can get you in, but you're gonna have to promise me at least half a page.

No, no, this thing's an event. It's gonna be a spectacle.

Lester? Nina. You look fabulous.

You're doing the reading?

I'm playing Serksi, the Galactic Witch.

Great. I'll call you.

Keep that fucking space witch away from me.

You know her? I was married to her.

Oh, my God, Iraq is amazing.

Oh, we're shooting in Iran.

Iran with an N?

Yeah. We're very excited.

You ever watch the news?

What does the title refer to?

The Argo. You know, it's the thing.

Like Jason and the Golden Fleece, or what?

No, no. It's the ship. It's the spaceship.

It goes everywhere. It goes all throughout space.

So it's the Argonaut.


What does "Argo" mean? I don't know.

You don't know?

It means "Argo fuck yourself."

Excuse me. May I have your attention, ladies and gentlemen?

If our artists could settle in. We're just about ready to begin the reading.

Argo, by Mary Ann Boyd.

"Fade in on starship landing.

Exterior, bazaar.

An exotic, Middle Eastern vibe."

The people working here are not diplomats.

In fact, as Imam Khomeini said...

...we have found no evidence that proves that these people are diplomats.

All evidence proves that these people are spies.

In the name of God, the beneficent, the merciful...

...our message to the awakened peoples of the world:

At this time we want to expose the hateful acts. ...

Our world has changed.

The fire of hope stopped burning in this galaxy long ago.

The ship is turning around.

Fire the thrusters!

He says a gravitational field that strong will kill anyone.

--were completely unjustified.

They and all others must know...

...that the United States of America will not yield... international terrorism or to blackmail.

Sir! We'll be crushed! There's not enough time!

--are controlled by capitalists and large oil companies.

The United States government considers revolutionaries as terrorists.. .

...but itself and its CIA are the most terrorizing organization of all time.

"The story was told, but there are infinitely more.

Three setting suns. The princess's robes fall from her body."

If we find his ship we will find our chance.

Aboard the Argo lies my hope, my hero, my husband.

We will begin the trials and carry out the sentences.

You wonder where and how this seemingly endless parade of hatred will end.

EMBASSY BASEMENT - JANUARY 23, 1980 What do they want? They say the question should be not "what?" but "who?"

The answer to that is clear. They want their former shah.

--Carter and his administration shameful to talk about human rights.

Carter and his government have given asylum to the worst criminal of all.

For life?

They will remain until the shah is returned.

But if the exiled shah, now in a New York City hospital...

...leaves the United States for any place other than Iran...

...harsher decisions will be taken against the hostages.

"We cut outside to the Shidoori Dome...

...holding on a single red flower... it grows from the ruins of a starship in the desert.

Fade to black." The end.

There is it. What'd I tell you?

First shot of the picture.

Argo fuck yourself.

Argo fuck yourself.


Brace yourself. It's like talking to those two old fucks on The Muppets.

Aliens and robots?

Yes, sir.

You're telling me that there is a movie company in Hollywood right now...

...that is funded by the CIA?

Yes, sir.

What's wrong with the bikes again? We tried to get the message upstairs, sir.

You think this is more plausible than teachers?

Yes, we do. One, there are no more foreign teachers in Iran.

And we think everybody knows Hollywood people.

Everybody knows they'd shoot in Stalingrad with Pol Pot directing if it would sell tickets.

There are only bad options.

It's about finding the best one.

You don't have a better bad idea than this?

This is the best bad idea we have, sir.

By far.

The United States government has just sanctioned your science-fiction movie.

Thank you, sir.

I'm required to remind you that if you are detained, the agency will not claim you.

Barely claim me as it is.

Your "in case of's" good?

It's just Christine.

I should've brought some books to read in prison.


They'll kill you long before prison.

Thanks for the ride. Yeah.

Studio Six.

We got a green light. Keep the office running until you hear otherwise.

Argo fuck yourself.

Your attention, please.

This is the final boarding call for British Airways Flight 87.

"We are a nation of 35 million.

And many of these people are looking forward to martyrdom."

Hey. Hey.

Come to bed.

In five minutes.

You know, she pleaded with me.

When it started in the streets nine months ago...

...she begged for us to leave.

She packed our bags, and I said:

"You know what? You know, just a little bit longer."

And all I was thinking was:


This is good for me.


Show Newsom you got the balls."

I can't believe I put Kathy in this position.

I think we're gonna die here.


"Iran is 100 percent not in a prerevolutionary state."

CIA brief, November 1st, 1979.

Can't be right all the time.


When'd you get back?

The shah escaped in a 747... laden with gold bars, it nearly didn't make it off the runway.

But you kept busy.

Ferrying out the torture apparatus of our friend's fallen dictatorship.

It's getting worse.

Everyone who lands at Mehrabad now fills in one of these.

That slip makes a copy to the one underneath. Passenger keeps yellow, airport keeps white.

When you leave, they match them up. .. verify you came into the country when you say you did.

So if they look, they'll see I didn't come into the country with six people.

If they look.

When you land, you should go straight to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance... kiss the ring.

Get on record as having applied for a film permit.

If they catch you later, at least they'll be confused while they're torturing you.


What will be the purpose of your visit to Iran?

Uh, film production. Business.

Why didn't you get your visa in Canada?

I would've loved to, except my boss didn't send a telex till I got here.

Guy had an intelligent thought in his head, it would die of loneliness.

The Times and AP found out six escaped.

They know who they are and they know they're hiding out with the Canadians.

Somebody with one of the families talked.

Mother of God.

Yeah, I just put Vance on a plane to take the editors to Le Cirque.

He thinks he can get them to sit on it, for now.

Your guy better get them...

...and get the hell out.

The captain has informed us that we have entered Iranian airspace.

We'll be coming through to collect any remaining alcoholic beverages.

This film crew is just yourself?

No, we have six more from Canada meeting us today.

You like to film at the bazaar?

The bazaar, maybe the palace.

Landmark sites.

I see.

The exotic Orient.

Snake charmers, flying carpets.

You came to us at a complicated time.

Before the revolution, 40 percent of the movie theaters in Tehran were showing pornography.

I understand.

The function of this office is purification.. . well as promotion for the arts.

I'll review this for the minister.

Okay. Thank you.

Lester, you're working late.

Till the dawn's early light.

You got stamina, Lester. I wanna be you.

Well, I'm 150 years old, so you wouldn't be me for long.

Mr. Ambassador. Ken Taylor.

Thank you for what you're doing.

I was expecting more of a G-man look.

I think you're thinking of the FBI, sir.

Ah. This way.

These are blank, you know. Stamps.. .. Yeah, I'll take care of this.

How long?

A day, prep their covers. Two if they need it.

And you'll fly out with them?


There's something you should know.

We think our housekeeper has figured out who they are.

We don't know if we can trust her, so sooner is better.


My name's Kevin Harkins. ..

...and I'm gonna get you home.

These are the screenplays for your cover identities.

It's theater of the absurd.

What are our chances? Your chances are good.

"Good"? Well, what's the number value of "good"?

Thirty percent chance of being publicly executed?

Can you tell me what the objection was to normal cover identities?

There are no Canadians in the country for normal reasons.

They'll sniff us out regardless. The Swedish Consul?

They accused him of being an American at the airport. They held him for an hour.

We can't hold up under that. We don't know what the hell movie people do.

That's why I'm here.

I'm gonna help you. I'll be with you the whole way. This is what I do.

Have you gotten people out this way before?

This would be a first.

Do you know that every day they catch another friend of the shah at the airport?

Kangaroo trials and then firing squads. ..

...just for having American names in their phone books.

You've been here an hour.

And you're asking us to trust you with our lives, Mr. ..?


That's your real name?


I know there are risks involved. Serious risks.

But it is time to go.

We've got orders to close the embassy and go back. There's nowhere for them to stay.

We will never make it through immigration at the airport. I'm serious.

No, no, no, this is what, the part when we say this is so crazy it might actually work?

Joe, I saw it in Burma. They get people out.

Snitches in banana republics? They get them over the border after the coup.

That's your opinion, Joe.

You know, his opinion got us out in the first place.

If we go out there with fake passports, we are spies, period. That's execution.

You got a problem lying, Joe? Point is, we can't stay here.

If we get caught, you and Pat go on trial for harboring the enemy, you know that?

Pat and I have discussed it. It's the risk we took.

That man out there has got bad cards and he is going to lose.

And if he loses, it's our lives.

And his life too.

Look, we don't have any alternatives.

We gotta go.

These cover identities were created specifically for each one of you.

What you need to do is memorize everything that's inside.

Who you are, what you are, where you've been. Complete bio.

And then add to that.

Where do you vacation? What are your allergies? Who'd you have an affair with?

The only way this works. .. if you believe that you're these people so much that you dream like them.

Get started tonight.

I'll be back tomorrow. We'll get going. Good luck.

Well, my guy kind of sucks.

What's your name?

Mike McEwan, eh? Heh.

That was convincing.

Kathy, what's your name?

The Love Boat will be seen 15 minutes from now.

The State Department insisted today that the crisis in Afghanistan...

...will not divert the attention of the United States from the plight of the hostages.

--is perceived to be if not impotent, then at least reluctant....

Now the United States finds itself in such bitter confrontation with the Soviet Union...

...over that country's invasion of Afghanistan....

The United States is now moving toward a decision... boycott the Summer Olympics in Moscow....

Bad news, bad news. Even when it's good news, it's bad news.

John Wayne's in the ground six months, this is what's left of America.

"The Minister of Culture and Guidance has approved your location scout.

He will send his representative to meet you and your crew.. . the Khayyam entrance to the Grand Bazaar tomorrow at 3 p.m."

They called your bluff.

Maybe they're cooperating. Absolutely not.

Seven Americans walking the bazaar is asking for a riot. It's the hive.

Seven Canadians, Jack.

Never give them multiple shots at a cover.

Are they even ready?

They're getting there.

There's no prize for "Most Improved."

I don't have a choice. We say no, they show up at the residence...

...and drag everyone out. You think their covers are gonna hold up. ..

...when they're getting their fingernails pulled out?

You want us to go to the Grand Bazaar at 3:00 in the afternoon?

You said a day to learn our covers, then straight to the airport.

They suspect something?

What I know is, we need to pretend to be a movie crew.

We go to the bazaar today, we fly out from the airport tomorrow.

We won't do it.

He told them that there were six of us. So they're expecting six.

It would be suspicious not to show up at this point.

What else do we have to do, all right?

He's about to show them the only cards that we're holding...

...which is that they don't know we're here! That's the ball game, okay?

Look, we don't have any other choice!

Who says that we'll know our covers well enough?

We're not in the CIA.

It's suicide.

I'm asking you to trust me.

I don't trust you.

This is the game, Joe. What world are you living in?

The one where they're hanging people from construction cranes, Bob.

It's too dangerous. I won't bring my wife into the bazaar.


So we'll see you at 2.

So don't be recognizable but look exactly like your passport photo.

I haven't been this nervous since our wedding.

Only this isn't a huge mistake, hopefully.

Sorry. Okay.


Who was that?

Mark? Yeah?

I'm scared.

It's okay.

Where are they?

In the kitchen.

This is what I do. I get people out.

And I've never left anyone behind.

I wish I could believe you, Mr. Harkins.

My name is Tony Mendez. I'm from New York.

My father worked construction. My mother teaches elementary school.

I have a wife and a 10-year-old son.

You play along with me today, I promise you, I will get you out tomorrow.



Hang on.

You all right?

Okay. Tell me who you are.

Mike McEwan, cameraman.

Robert Baker, director.

Timothy Harris, location manager.

Mary Ann Boyd, screenwriter.

Rachel Dewart, production designer.

Sean Bissett, associate producer.

All right. Let's go make a movie.

Welcome, welcome. My name is Reza Bolhani.

Kevin Harkins. I'm the producer. Nice to meet you.

This is Mike McEwan, our cameraman.

This is Tim. This is Mary, our screenwriter.

And this is our director, Bob Baker.

You are the director? Yes.

Is this film a foreign-bride film?


A film where a foreign bride comes to Iran. ..

...but she doesn't understand the language or the customs...

...and there is misunderstandings and laughs.

Oh, no.

The bazaar in Tehran is one of the largest in the world.

This bazaar has been on this spot for over 8000 years.

You can find many items such as paper, spices.. .

...precious metals, all right here.

Right this way, please.

This way.

Uh, Mike? Yeah.

If I was to say you're looking through the wrong end of that viewfinder, would I be right?


Just a little further.

Please wait here. Let's stay together.

He wants the photograph you took.

It's okay, it's her job to take photographs. She's the production designer.

He says he did not give you permission to take a photograph of his store.

That's okay. You can tell him he can have it.

Please, please, just take the photograph.

Peace be upon you.

SAHAR And upon you, sir. Welcome.

I hope you are well.

Thank you very much. How are you?

I'm very well. What's your name?


He's saying that the shah killed his son with an American gun.

No, no, no! No! Canada!


I would like to suggest that we end our visit.

You know, sister...

...those who are with him, Rasool of Allah, we are tender among ourselves.

But stern against the Kufar.

As God wills it.

But those who sit silently have sinned.

How else may I help, sir?

No, no, just one thing.

How long have they been here?


The guests of the Ambassador.

The guests of the Ambassador. How long have they been here?

They arrived two days ago.

Forgive my intrusion, one must be vigilant.

Everyone in this house is a friend of Iran.

How'd it go?

What about tomorrow?

Tomorrow they'll be ready.

For Kennedy, a stunning turnaround... week after humiliation in Illinois.

I love New York.

And I love Connecticut too.

How did he win here? Well, he had help.

I'm responsible for anything that goes wrong in this government.

A man in Scranton is placing a flag in his lawn for every day of captivity.

When he runs out of lawn, Kennedy wins the primary.

The six with the Canadians are coming out.

Who signed off on this?

You. Where was your passport issued? Vancouver.

Where were you born? Toronto.

"Torono." Canadians don't pronounce the T.

Some Komiteh guard is actually gonna know that?

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

Mary, who were the last three prime ministers of Canada?

Trudeau, Pearson and Diefenbaker.

What's your father's name? Howard.

What's his occupation? Fisherman.

Where were you born? Halifax, Nova Scotia.

What's your date of birth?

February 21st, 1952.

Good. What's your job on the movie? Producer.

Associate. Last movie you produced? High and Dry.

Who paid for that? CFDC.

What's your middle name? What's your middle name?

Leon? Shoot him. He's an American spy.

Look, they're gonna try to break you, okay? By trying to get you agitated.

You have to know your résumé back to front.

You really believe your little story's gonna make a difference when there's a gun to our heads?

I think my story's the only thing between you and a gun to your head.


Hey, they made it through the location scout.

You have a call.

What is it?

Go to black on green.


It all just changed. What?

They're calling the game. You gotta come back. What?

Joint Chiefs are planning a military rescue of the hostages.

Delta Force has started training to storm the grounds.

So if the six of them...

...are brought down there, they won't be held for long.

Fuck. Goddamn it. I never would have exposed them if I wasn't authorized to get them out.

It's over, Tony. If they stay here, they will be taken.

Probably not alive. Listen to me. The thinking has changed.

Six Americans get pulled out of a Canadian diplomat's house and executed.. .'s a world outrage.

Six Americans get caught playing movie make-believe...

...with the CIA at the airport and executed?

It's a national embarrassment. They are calling the operation.

We're responsible for these people.

What we are is required to follow orders.

I'm sorry.


Come in.

Ready to try again.

You're ready. You worked hard.

Probably the best thing to do for you right now would be.. .

...just to relax.


You did good.


Scorched-earth policy tonight.

Nothing gets left.

So you know.

ExtAff wants you to burn the passports before you leave.

If we tell them now, they'll panic. I think it's best if you just don't show.

It was always a fucked mission.

You came closer than anybody else.

If it keeps on rainin' Levee's goin' to break When the levee breaks I'll have no place to stay

Ahem. It's off. They want us to pack up the office.

This can wait. Let's go get a drink.

He's late.


Somebody's responsible...

...when things happen, Jack.

I'm responsible.

I'm taking them through. Tony?

Alan. Alan. We need to confirm those seven tickets out of Tehran on Swissair.

N.E. shut that down. I say it's back on.

I can't do it. It's backstopped. Hey, wait a minute.

What the hell you talking about, backstopped? What the hell's that mean?

Carter's gotta say yes for us to get the tickets.

It's time to go.

All right.

Where's Engell? He's in a meeting.

Pull him out. Uh.. ..

Pull him out!

Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Thank you. See you soon.

Sahar's on a bus. Great.

Sahar will be fine.

Thank you. Thank you.

You two leave right now, right? We'll be on a train in half an hour.


N.E. said no.

This is not a long leasher, and it never has been, and you don't decide if it goes!

It is going!

Jack, you are this close.

Am l? Am I really that close?

You are this goddamn close to the line with me.

I am not gonna leave him at the airport with six people and his dick in his hand.

You tell the director to call the White House. Do your fucking job!

Get to your plane, Claude.

First time anyone's gonna ask you a question is at the first checkpoint.

The first checkpoint is just to get a look at your passports.

Passports came straight from Ottawa last week. They're clean.

Find the White House chief of staff.

How would I find him?

We're a fucking spy agency! Find him!

The second checkpoint is immigration.

You're each gonna hand them one of these.

It says that you landed in the country two days ago.

They'll look for the matching white one, which doesn't exist.

You'll say you don't know what happened.

And if you believe they lost the white slip...

...they'll believe it too.

Jordan's in the West Wing. He's not taking calls.

Where are his kids?


Where do his kids go to school?

Thank you, thank you.

Pace Academy, Buckhead, Georgia.

White House.

Yes, this is Mr. Murphy from Pace Academy calling for Mr. Jordan.

Yeah, I'm afraid it is an emergency.

Hold for the chief of staff's office.

The third checkpoint is the trap.

It's manned by the Revolutionary Guard.

Most of them were educated in the U.S. or Europe.

And all of whom are looking for Americans.


Jack O'Donnell, from C.I. Wait, wait, who?

Tehran Houseguest operation is ready now. We don't have the president's go-ahead.

They are going to be captured.

David, pick up!

Zurich. It's under Harkins.

I'm sorry, sir, I don't seem to have these reservations.

Telex on flash.

Would you mind checking again, please?

Copy D.S. Confirm the tickets! Go!

My apologies. It just came through.

Swissair says they picked up the tickets.

Get the L.A. office, tell them to be ready in case they call.

We told them to shut that down.

There you go.

Not here.

When did you come to Iran?

Two days ago.

What was the purpose of your visit?

We are looking for locations for a film.

We have a--

Oh, yeah. I've got a letter from the Ministry of Culture.

If you want to take a look at that. All right?

Ahem. You can go.

Come on, come on.

Swissair Flight 363 is now boarding Rows 18 to 35.

We're going to. ...

We're together, yes. The six of us, we're from Canada.

Purser's telling Swissair they're not on the plane.

They should have boarded already.

Still no answer in L.A.


STAFFORD Yes, it's a fantasy story about a war in another world.

Here you can see our notices.

Of course I speak Farsi.

I wish to make a film in Iran.

No, I'm the writer.

Kevin, give me the storyboards.

These are the drawings that show what we will film for the movie.

Alien villains have taken over the hero's planet.

They fight for their families and take back the city.

The villains know he is the chosen one, so they kidnap his son in the spice market.

So he and his wife storm the castle.

The people...hold that... the people are inspired to join him. They are farmers, but they learn to fight.

They shoot weapons at their enemies.

And the king of the aliens is destroyed when the people find their courage.

You don't go until we verify.

I understand.

Sir, you can call our office.

They'll verify.

It'd go all the way throughout the '30s. We're shooting right now.

We're just going to the Producers Building. Yeah, I understand. We're shooting right now.

Swissair announces final boarding for Flight 363 to Zurich.

Reset! We're back to one.

All right, reset. We're going again!

We're just right at the Producers-- Right away, everyone! And rolling!

We're going to the Producers Building. We're rolling.

Sorry, pal. We're gonna be in the movie. Call my agent.


Studio Six Productions.

May I speak to a Mr. Kevin Harkins?

I'm sorry, Mr. Harkins is out of country on a location scout. May I take a message?

Doors are closing for Flight 363 to Zurich.

We can go.

You keep these. It's a gift.


Swissair 363, clearance for taxi?

Swissair 363, you are number two for departure.

Ladies and gentlemen, from the flight deck, we are number two for takeoff.

Swissair 363, you are cleared for takeoff.

Swissair 363, cleared for takeoff.

We got wheels up.


Ladies and gentlemen, it is our pleasure to announce...

...that alcoholic beverages are now available as we have cleared Iranian airspace.

I love you.

They're clear. Ha-ha-ha!

Yes! Yes!

Yeah! Yes!

Yeah, man.

They're out!

They're out! They're out! We got them out!

They're out!


Great work, boys.

We did it!

You are admitted to the Republic of Iraq.

We made history tonight.

History starts out as farce and ends up as tragedy.

Quote's the other way around.

Yeah, who said it? Marx.

Groucho said that?

Call the Times, nail it to the goddamn door.

CIA are the good guys.

The Canadians are the good guys.

Yeah, we're not greedy. Them too.

Only. Canada takes the credit, or they retaliate against the hostages.

Great Satan wasn't involved.


Is that right, Jack?

Involved in what?

We were as surprised as anybody.

Thank you, Canada.

We knew that each day they stayed there...

...the danger was becoming greater.

We had been looking for a solution to have them leave the country during the past three months.

Day 87, and finally a sliver of really good news.

The U.S. Department of State hereby honors Joe Stafford. ..

...Kathy Stafford.. .

...Mark Lijek.. ..

We Americans will be forever grateful to our great friend and ally to the north...

...for the protection and the safe passage provided for our diplomats.

Bob Anders.

Here, or anywhere in the world...

...Canada will pay...

...for this violation of the sovereignty of Iran.

Thank you to Pat and Ken Taylor and the great nation of Canada.

So I'm sitting in Jerry's this morning, I'm having breakfast.

Waitress comes over to me, she's waving a newspaper, and she says:

"You see what those Canadians pulled off? Why can't we do something like that?"

And I said to her-- Do you know what I said?

No, what?

"Argo fuck yourself."

All set.

Thanks a lot.


Heh. And I left my autograph book at home.

His Eminence called me.

He wants to see you.

Probably wants to fire me himself.

He wants to give you the Intelligence Star.

You're getting the highest award of merit. ..

...of the Clandestine Services of these United States.

Ceremony's on the 14th.

If they push it a week, I can bring Ian. That's his winter break.

The op was classified, so the ceremony's classified.

He can't know about it. Nobody can know about it.

So they're just gonna give me an award and then they're gonna take it back.

That's right.

If we wanted applause, we would've joined the circus.

I thought we did. Ha.

Carter said you were a great American.

Great American what?

He didn't say.

What happened to your picture?

It's in turnaround.

Can I come in?

The Iran Hostage Crisis ended on January 20, 1981, when all remaining hostages were released. They spent 444 days in captivity.

The involvement of the C.I.A. complemented efforts of the Canadian embassy in freeing the six held in Tehran. To this day, this story stands as an enduring model for international cooperation between governments.

All of the Houseguests returned to the U.S. Foreign Service after their ordeal in Iran.

Oscar-winning makeup artist John Chambers was awarded the C.I.A.'s Intelligence Medal, its highest civilian honor. He and Mendez remained friends until Chambers' death in 2001.

Tony Mendez's Intelligence Star was returned to him in 1997, when the Argo operation was declassified by President Clinton.

He lives in rural Maryland with his family.

They went in, as you know, under the guise of creating a motion-picture film.

But that it had a very high possibility of failure.

And after it was successful, of course... was a great temptation to reveal all the stories... maybe I could take a little bit of credit for it, since I was president...

...but we had to keep it secret. Tony Mendez has gone down in CIA history...

...after his retirement... one of the 50 most important CIA operatives of all time.

Eventually we got every hostage back home, safe and sound...

...and we upheld the integrity of our country, and we did it peacefully.