Our Man in Tehran (2013)

(On Cable TV, November 2013) While Canadian Caper documentary Our Man in Tehran was not entirely motivated by the historical inaccuracies in Argo (it began planning well before Argo made it to screens), there’s no denying that the film earned enormous publicity and good-will (at least in Canada) as being “the answer” to the Hollywoodized fictional account.  It’s certainly riveting as a companion piece, as much for the context it establishes around the event than for the ways it reveals a true story often more interesting than the fiction itself. (Consider that the Swissair plane that flew the hostages out of Tehran was named… Aargau.)   Canadian diplomat Ken Taylor is the acknowledged titular hero of Our Man in Tehran, but much of the film’s credit go to writer/directors Larry Weinstein and Drew Taylor (along with Robert Wright, who wrote the book on which much of the material is drawn) as they spin a talking head montage into a short history of the Iranian revolution, a narrative of the Canadian Caper and gentle jabs at the Hollywood version of events in which the CIA “allows” Canada to claim credit for the success of the operation.  There’s a lot of interesting material here, not the least being how much Canadian assets contributed to the reconnaissance portion of the failed Desert Claw rescue operation.  It’s easy to label Our Man in Tehran as an essential companion piece to Argo… but that’s undermining the film, which is equally worth a viewing by itself.

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