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0:00:00 History of Iranian Empire
Narrator introduces the history of the Iranian Empire, known today as Iran, through a series of videos, drawings, and images. For 2500 years, it 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.
0:00:29 United States and Great Britain coup d’état
In 1953, the United States and Great Britain engineered a coup d'état to depose Prime Minister Mohammad Mossaddegh and install Reza Pahlavi as Shah. Reza Pahlavi was known for opulence and excess while his people starved. The people feared Reza Pahlavi and his brutal, torturous police force (Savak). Reza Pahlavi began a campaign to westernize Iran, enraging most of the Shi'a population.
0:01:08 Overthrow of Reza Pahlavi
The people of Iran overthrew the Shah in 1979 and the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini was brought back into power. This resulted in chaos and score-settling.
0:01:38 Reza Pahlavi granted American asylum
Dying of cancer, the Shah was permitted asylum in the United States. The Iranian people were enraged and took to the streets outside the United States embassy in Tehran, demanding that the Shah be returned, tried, and hanged.
0:01:59 Iranian Revolution, 1979
Fast forward to "present day," 1979. Indecipherable chanting gradually becomes louder until the protests outside the United States embassy in Tehran are brought to life with an image of a waving, burning flag over thousands of Iranian protesters; they chant in unison, waving fists, signs, and anti-American images.
0:02:50 Crowds are bigger today
Embassy workers Bob Anders and Mark Lijek notice the crowd's growing size as they look out of the embassy window. Lijek asks if the windows are supposed to be bulletproof. Cutaway to a different room within the United States embassy: Cora Lijek and Kathy Stafford service a busy room of non-Americans seeking American visas.
0:03:28 Fire in the streets
Cutaway to loud street protest; helicopter provides aerial view of the US embassy grounds. Protests continue; single Iranian climbs over embassy gate.
0:03:59 Inside the embassy
Quick shot of US Marine in watchtower; Henry Lee Schatz looking out of embassy window, perturbed.
0:04:04 Breaching the gate
More Iranians follow suit and climb the fence.
0:04:11 Where is security?
Anders is demanding additional security via telephone in a room with Mark Lijek, Cora Lijek, and Kathy Stafford. Shatz walks into same office informing group that the Iranians have breached the gate. He says they should all leave; he leaves to lock his office.
0:04:17 Code black
Protests continue outside. More and more Iranians climb the gate. A male Iranian cuts the lock on the gate and embassy workers watch security surveillance tapes that show the crowd pouring into the United States compound.
0:04:38 Proceed immediately with destruction of all sensitive material
Tension within the embassy rises. American workers are frantically yelling into walkie-talkies. A faxed notice in capital letters reads "PROCEED IMMEDIATELY WITH DESTRUCTION OF ALL SENSITIVE MATERIAL." Multiple embassy workers tell their colleagues to burn everything.
0:04:54 Confusion and angst in the embassy
Irate Iranians storm the front door of the embassy. One by one, American armed forces watch as security cameras go static. The chaos within the embassy mirrors the chaos outside; shots alternate between Iranians yelling, chanting, and banging on the doors and Americans throwing files into bins, running, and yelling into the telephone.
0:05:17 “You don’t want to be the son of a bitch who starts a war”
United States armed forces gather tear gas, guns and bullets. An American commands the group to hold fire. "You don't want to be the son of a bitch who started a war"; "If you shoot one person, they are going to shoot every single one of us in here."
0:05:32 “No one is coming”
As Iranians break basement embassy windows, Kathy Stafford, Cora Lijek, Mark Lijek, Shatz, Joe Stafford and Anders argue about their options behind the windows of the visa room. Mark Lijek says if they want to get out, they need to leave right away; Kathy Stafford suggests that they wait for the police; Cora Lijek says the police aren't coming; Anders ends the argument with "Look at me. No one is coming." Files continue to be burned throughout the embassy.
0:06:15 Tear gas
A few moments after the American in charge informs the army that tear gas is a last resort only, the first shots of tear gas are shot into the crowd from a second-story window. Iranians breach the basement window; tear gas is fired directly at them.
0:06:52 “We need to go now”
The six continue to argue. Mark Lijek says that they are in America and are safe; Anders refuses to go outside; Cora Lijek says that they are not safe in the building. Joe Stafford says: "We are the only building with direct access to the street. If we are going to leave, we need to leave now." They finally reach a consensus to leave as tension escalates outside.
0:07:16 “I’m going outside”
American diplomat takes off his gas mask and bullet proof vest to go outside and diffuse the situation. He emerges through the front door of the embassy and is immediately overtaken and blindfolded by Iranians. Cutaway to embassy workers; they are frantically shredding documents, and Iranians continue chanting. A gun is put to the blindfolded American leader whose face is pressed against the front door of the embassy. He is begging his American colleagues to open the door of the embassy.
0:08:00 The fire inside is out
The door is opened, and the Iranians pour in. Americans continue to destroy sensitive documents, computers, and technology. Iranians are now on the roof. Safes are emptied by Cora, Kathy, Anders and Mark. Lights go out as Iranians raid the compound.
0:08:55 Escaping the embassy
The six have their jackets on and emerge from the visa application room. Joe Stafford speaks Farsi to the Iranians in the waiting room and advises that they leave. Anders directs them down the stairwell that leads to the street.
0:09:10 Ayatollah Khomeini
In a different part of the embassy in Tehran, a young Iranian finds a framed image of Ayatollah Khomeini on the wall with three darts in his head. He screams at the two Americans hiding behind a desk.
0:09:20 “It’s done, they’re in”
Americans retreat to their desks as Iranians run toward them down the hallway. An American woman, who has been on the telephone through various points of the film thus far, says "it's done, they're in" and hangs up the telephone. She along with the rest of the Americans in the room are blindfolded and taken hostage.
0:09:36 The streets of Tehran
The six retreat down a dimly lit corridor to an empty street in Tehran. Soft, slow music plays as flags burn, Iranians scream, point guns, and blindfold Americans inside the embassy.
0:10:27 At the CIA headquarters
Pender, Bates, and three American intelligence officers rush down a clean white corridor in Washington.
0:10:45 Ken Taylor’s home
Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor silently welcomes the six escapees with his wife, Pat, and housekeeper, Sarah.
0:10:50 CIA headquarters, Virginia
A voiceover is heard as the six escapees enter the home. American government officials are speaking in Washington, attempting to determine the six escapees' location. They confirm that the escapees are safe at the Canadian embassy.
0:11:05 “It’ll be over in 24 hours”
Hamilton Jordan, Chief of Staff to President Jimmy Carter, is walking down the White House hallway into a room full of American intelligence officers. Televisions with various news shows are lined up. One television can be heard: "We're sticking to it; no release until they expel the Shah." "Well, we took him in, he's ours now." Intelligence asks about the six who are with the Canadian ambassador. An intelligence officer says that this will all be over in twenty-four hours. Jordan says to leave the six where they are. He walks out of the room leaving three televisions to briefly report the story.
0:12:05 Yellow ribbons: come home safely
Fade in to a view of the Washington monument. A yellow ribbon is blowing in the wind from a telephone pole. A distant shot of the monument and lake is visible in the early morning. "Come home safely" signs and American flags decorate storefronts. A "pray for our hostages" message is on a church sign.
0:12:25 Television reports
The Today Show is reporting about the hostage crisis. The shot retracts to show a messy room with Tony Mendez sleeping in his suit. The television report can still be heard in the background as the telephone rings.
0:12:59 Yellow ribbons
Yellow ribbons line the highway as Mendez makes his way to the CIA. He is listening to a report on the radio regarding the hostage crisis.
0:13:12 CIA headquarters
Mendez runs through the parking lot and into the CIA building. A remembrance is visible on the wall: IN HONOR OF THOSE MEMBERS OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY.
0:13:30 Houseguests
Mendez walks through a bustling, smoky room and meets Jack O'Donnell, CIA Manager, in the hallway of the CIA headquarters in Virginia. O'Donnell informs Mendez of the six escapees' situation as they walk back through a busy office space. He shares that both Britain and New Zealand turned them away; the six are considered "houseguests."
0:14:25 Mug book and sweatshops
O'Donnell says that the houseguests' families are the only ones that know about their stay at the home of the Canadian ambassador. O'Donnell continues that someone in the American embassy in Tehran kept a "mug book" of everyone working at the embassy; "now the bastards are using sweatshop kids to put the shreds back together" to show images of the American workers.
0:14:50 “He ran it by his best guy”
O'Donnell tells Mendez that State is coordinating the rescue mission but wants to run it by the CIA (O'Donnell and Mendez) first. "If these people die, they die badly. Publicly." Tony asks why "he" wants him there; Jack replies "so he can tell State he ran it by his best guy."
0:15:15 Conference room
O'Donnell and Mendez enter a room; Jack introduces Bob Pender from State OS. State takes their seats.
0:15:26 Who are the houseguests?
A government official reveals black and white images of the six houseguests. Mark and Cora Lijek, newlyweds, are introduced first. Videos complement their introductions. The Lijeks arrived a few months ago without language skills and in-country knowledge. Henry Lee Schatz is an agricultural from Idaho and is described as a bit of an oddball. Joe Stafford is in his late twenties and speaks Farsi. Kathy is his wife. Bob Anders is the last to be introduced as is considered most likely to be the group leader. Bates shares that, fortunately, the Iranians are not aware that the six Americans have been staying at the Canadian ambassador's residence at the moment.
0:16:18 Exfiltration: bicycles?
Pender proposes a plan involving bicycles -- cars are off the table because of road blocks. CIA intelligence will identify back roads through the mountains to get them to the Turkish border. Mendez is visibly perturbed as Bates suggests waiting until the weather clears up. Pender says that if they do not know how to ride bicycles, they will send someone to teach them.
0:16:43 Six short of a full deck
Mendez breaks the silence by mockingly suggesting training wheels for the group and to wait at the border with Gatorade and highlights the absurdity of Pender's plan. The group is agitated by his response. "If these people can read or add, they're going to realize that they are six short of a full deck. The only way in and out is through the airport. It's winter. You can't afford to wait around until spring so it's nice enough to take a bike ride."
0:17:37 Exfiltration brainstorm
The CIA and State Department begin to throw around different ideas. One officer suggests fake journalists (too dangerous), fake teachers at the international school (schools have been closed for eight months) and Canadians posing to inspect crops (snow on the ground).
0:18:45 Exfiltrations are like abortions
Mendez: abortion analogy. You don't want to need one, but when you do need one, you don't do it yourself. The camera pans the room, and a government official asks if Mendez has a better plan. "No sir."
0:19:00 Hostages as spies
Mendez listens to the radio as he returns home. The radio personality discusses whether or not the hostages will be tried as spies.
0:19:15 Tehran press conference
Back in Tehran, an Iranian woman is speaking at an Iranian press conference concerning the extradition of the Shah and violation of human rights. A shot of the hostages is shown resting on individual cots in a dimly lit room at the American embassy in Tehran. Iranians are standing watch over each with guns.
0:19:32 Houseguests’ cellar
Cut to a dimly lit cellar illuminated by a flashlight. The six houseguests are looking up listening to the news report of ‘blowing up the embassy."
0:19:41 Children at American embassy in Tehran
Back at the embassy, young children sift through thousands of shredded pieces of paper.
0:19:46 “Iran, go to hell”
A KPRC-TV News tape shows Americans burning the Iranian flag with a sign that reads "IRAN GO TO HELL."
0:19:49 Children at American embassy in Tehran
Young Iranian children continue to sift through the shreds. One child is specifically making progress on Schatz's image.
0:19:56 Dinner with the houseguests
Shatz is shown at the dinner table with the rest of the houseguests and Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. They briefly discuss justice and what should happen next. Tension rises.
0:20:05 Interview with the Shah
A televised interview is shown with the Shah.
0:20:15 Americans and Ayatollah
A different televised interview is shown between two Americans and Ayatollah.
0:20:20 Dinner with the houseguests
The dinnertime discussion at the Taylor residence has escalated; wine in the wine glasses is shaking as all guests begin to speak at once. Dining utensils shake on dinner plates as a hum outside gradually becomes louder. The hum of a helicopter becomes apparent, and Taylor urges the houseguests to go to the cellar -- a small underground room covered by a rug in the middle of the floor.
0:20:49 Shoot the Iranians
Shots alternate between Mendez driving in the darkness and televised violence in Iran. Americans are interviewed: one says "shoot a couple and tell them we mean business"; a Vietnam veteran says he is "mad as hell." Mendez sifts through the confidential houseguests' files.
0:21:37 Planet of the Apes
Mendez telephones his son, Ian Mendez, who is watching Planet of the Apes at his mother's home. Mendez and his wife are separated. Mendez turns on the film in his own home. The camera zooms into Mendez, who is now watching the film intently, and cuts back to a zoomed-in shot of the television.
0:22:42 Argo proposal to the CIA
The next day, Mendez suggests that the six houseguests pose as a Canadian film crew on a location scout for a science fiction movie in Egypt or Istanbul. Mendez offers to fly to Tehran.
0:23:39 Protests in Iran
Tension continues to escalate in Iran. Protestors on motorcycles ride through a violent crowd and over an American flag that has been painted on the street.
0:23:51 Did Anders go outside?
Back at the Canadian ambassador's house, tension rises among the houseguests. Anders is becoming stir crazy and is accused of going outside. After a short argument, Cora Lijek admits to seeing Anders briefly venture outside the ambassador's home. Shatz and Lijek are concerned about their safety.
0:24:12 Tehran office
An Iran gentleman brings a document to who appears to be protest leader in an office. After an indecipherable conversation, the leader abruptly gets on the phone.
0:24:35 “The country is watching you; they just don’t know it”
O'Donnell interrupts Mendez as he meticulously creates blank mock Canadian passports for the houseguests in his office. The CIA wants Mendez to go to Los Angeles. If Mendez can convince Hollywood to make the movie, the CIA is on board. O'Donnell warns Mendez to not "fuck up."
0:25:02 Chambers in Los Angeles
On the set of a sci-fi movie in Los Angeles; a man is looking for John Chambers, special-effects master, to alleviate some tension between three actors. Chambers arrives and receives a phone call from Mendez (now going by the pseudonym Kevin Harkins).
0:25:54 The Washington Post
An image of the Washington Post headline "New Threats for Hostage Tribunals" takes over the screen.
0:25:58 Traveling to Hollywood
Mendez is seated on a plane to Los Angeles. The battered Hollywood sign is followed by an aerial view of Chambers' production site.
0:26:19 Chambers’ trailer
Mendez and Chambers enter Chambers' trailer, laden with Planet of the Apes masks. Mendez shares the houseguests' situation and proposes Chambers help him make a fake movie. "You've come to the right place." Chambers jocularity demonstrates a willingness to help.
0:27:20 Production assignments
Chambers is perusing the classified documents at a restaurant filled with framed images of Hollywood stars. Chambers assigns fake production roles: Cora Lijek (screenwriter) and Anders (director) and Mendez (associate producer). Chambers tells Mendez that in order to pull this off, they will need a script and "somebody who is a somebody" to be on board.
0:28:24 Convincing Hollywood
Chambers and Mendez travel to Lester Siegel's mansion. Siegel, a seasoned Hollywood producer, only has a few moments as he is busy preparing to receive a lifetime achievement award. A news report is on the television in the background as he unconvincingly repeats what Chambers and Mendez are asking of him. "We did suicide missions in the Army that had better odds than this." As Siegel rises to leave, the television catches his attention. Chambers asks if people act this way for the camera. After a few moments, Siegel catches a glimpse of a blindfolded American and says "we're going to need a script."
0:29:50 Sarah knows
Back at the ambassador's home, Kathy Stafford breaks a wine glass while washing dishes. Her husband tries to console her. Anders, Shatz, and Lijek are playing chess and smoking cigars. Gunshots catch their attention. The housekeeper Sarah comments on the houseguests' unwillingness to leave the house. While the Canadian ambassador brushes his teeth, his wife tells him that Sarah knows.
0:29:52 Streets of Tehran
Back in Tehran on the streets. Women have machine guns and peer menacingly over the protestors.
0:31:00 Finding the perfect script
Aerial view of Los Angeles. A dog is barking. In Siegel's backyard, Chambers and Siegel discuss scripts. The Lifetime Achievement Award is used as a paperweight. Chambers telephones his contacts to set up meetings. Siegel is turned off by many of the scripts: "if I'm doing a fake movie, it's going to be a fake hit."
0:31:20 Time is running short
Mendez is on the telephone inside Siegel's home speaking to O'Donnell. Mendez has seventy-two hours to make this work. Mendez shuffles some scripts around and sees Argo in a black binding.
0:32:00 Mendez finds Argo
Chambers is still outside on the phone trying to set up appointments when Mendez walks out reading part of the Argo script. Part of it reads that it is "set in an exotic location with a Middle-Eastern vibe." They smile.
0:32:28 You really know Warren Beatty?
Siegel and Mendez arrive at Crossroads to negotiate Argo with agent Max Klein. Klein is not impressed until Siegel plays hardball. Mendez and Siegel leave the studio with a signature; Mendez discovers Siegel was bluffing the entire time.
0:34:38 Hollywood is a bullshit business
Siegel and Mendez sit on outdoor steps and talk about family. Siegel has two daughters whom he speaks with once a year. He calls himself a terrible father and considers Hollywood a "bullshit business"; it's like "coal mining," you come home to your wife and kids and you can't wash it off. Mendez tells Siegel about his son who lives in Virginia with his mother. He and his wife are taking time off.
0:35:52 Auditions
Chambers and an assistant are walking toward the producer's building where a line of people in sci-fi gear are prepping for an audition.
0:35:59 Security in Tehran
O'Donnell is on the phone again with Mendez providing an update on the increased security at the Tehran airport.
0:36:22 Make it more Middle-Eastern
Mendez lists the items that have been organized so far to Chambers and Siegel: they have an office, a movie poster, and business cards. Mendez, Siegel, and Chambers decide to organize a press event with a script reading of Argo. Mendez looks at draft sketches of and asks the artist to make them "more Middle-Eastern" -- specifically Iran.
0:37:21 Argo fuck yourself
"Dance the Night Away" plays in the background as people in sci-fi gear walk outside the posh Beverly Hilton. The event is filled with eager reporters who ask Siegel and Mendez questions throughout the night. In a comedic encounter with a reporter, Siegel describes the film as vaguely as possible and finally answers a question with "I don't know, Argo fuck yourself."
0:39:20 Script reading at the Hilton
The script reading begins. The camera travels throughout the room. Mendez drinks. A waiter working the event leaves dirty dishes in the kitchen sink; he passes a television with the same Iranian woman at the press conference. She states that all evidence shows that the hostages are spies.
0:39:44 Jimmy Carter and Iran press conference
Shots alternate between televised reports and the Argo reading occurring simultaneously. O'Donnell is watching the same television report in Washington. Viewers are then brought to the live interview in Tehran, where the Iranian woman continues that the revolutionists are not terrorists, the CIA is. The Argo script reading continues; the houseguests watch a news report with Jimmy Carter.
0:40:41 Basement in American embassy
At the American embassy in Tehran, hostages are forced to rise out of bed.
0:40:50 Script reading and conference
The Argo script reading and Iranian report continue.
0:41:00 Tension
Back in the American embassy, an Iranian yells at the hostages who are lined up shoulder to shoulder. Sarah is shown cleaning up the dinner table as the houseguests continue to watch the news report.
0:41:11 Iranians shoot
Frames alternate from the American embassy, the live interview with the Iranian woman, a televised interview with the Ayatollah, and the finale of the Argo script reading. Bags are put over the American hostages' heads in the embassy in Tehran. An Iranian yells and guns are drawn toward the American hostages. The Iranians shoot unloaded guns; an American collapses, whimpering.
0:41:55 Cheers to Argo
Siegel, Mendez, and Chambers celebrate a successful event with great press. They cheer to "Argo fuck yourself."
0:42:12 The Muppets
Mendez's plane takes off to the CIA Headquarters in McLean, VA. Mendez and O'Donnell wait to meet with top government officials to discuss their plan of action. "There are only bad options. It's about finding the best one." The United States government sanctions the science-fiction movie.
0:43:50 Washington Monument
Mendez walks along a river in Washington. The Washington Monument is in the background.
0:43:57 Farewell, Mendez
Mendez takes off his wedding ring before being dropped off at the airport by O'Donnell. O'Donnell informs him that if he is detained, the agency cannot come retrieve him. Mendez jokes that he should have brought books to read in prison.
0:45:00 Happy birthday, Ian
Mendez calls Chambers from the airport. Conversation ends with "Argo fuck yourself." Mendez cannot get through to his wife or son so mails his son a happy birthday postcard instead.
0:46:04 A houseguest’s regrets
Joe Stafford interprets the Ayatollah's televised speech to Mark Lijek. Kathy asks her husband for a private moment, but he declines; he tells Mark that he regrets not leaving months ago when she had begged him. He cannot believe he put her in this position.
0:47:32 Iran murder
Sarah looks outside the Canadian embassy as three Iranians shoot another Iranian in an alleyway
0:47:56 Yellow papers
Mendez meets with a colleague at a cathedral to obtain important documents that will allow Mendez to get through the Tehran airport.
0:49:26 Visa
Mendez is approved for a visa to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
0:50:23 Discovery
Pender speaks privately with O'Donnell about the status of Iranian intelligence; they know that six are missing and know what they look like.
0:50:47 Tehran airport
Mendez (Harkins) arrives to a very crowded Tehran airport and nonchalantly picks up six additional immigration forms for the houseguests. Mendez's passport is checked after a woman's husband is taken away. She is in a panic as Mendez's passport is stamped.
0:52:27 Streets of Tehran
Mendez is driven through the busy streets of Tehran. He passes an Iranian version of KFC, men standing on the back of a truck with guns, and a man hanging by the neck from a crane.
0:53:18 “You came to us at a bad time”
Mendez proposes the film to an Iranian and explains that the rest of his film crew is coming today. He is shut down.
0:54:14 Where’s Mendez?
Back in Hollywood, Siegel is working late waiting for Mendez's phone call.
0:54:40 Thank you, Canada (1)
Mendez arrives at the front door of the Canadian Embassy and thanks Ken Taylor for what he is doing. Taylor provides Mendez with fake passports. The houseguests' images are already prepared in the passports; all Mendez has to do is stamp their new information. Mendez says that it will take one day for them to prep their covers and another day to execute. Taylor informs Mendez that the housekeeper knows, so the sooner, the better.
0:55:35 Is your real name Mendez?
The houseguests are sitting around a table at the ambassador's home when they meet Mendez for the first time. Cora smiles, and Mendez introduces himself as Kevin Harkins. The houseguests are skeptical of the plan. Joe Stafford shares what they do to Americans at the Tehran airport and asks Mendez if Harkins is his real name. Mendez says no.
0:57:45 Canadian embassy to close
Shots alternate from inside and outside Taylor's residence. Inside, the houseguests discuss their chances of escape. Outside, Taylor tells Mendez that he has orders to close the embassy. The houseguests come to the conclusion that they have no alternatives.
0:58:40 Credentials and identities
Mendez provides each houseguest with their cover identities and asks them to memorize every little detail. "The only way this works is if you believe you are these people so much that you start to dream like them." Mendez will be back the following morning to go over the rest of the material. They briefly look over the material; Mr. Stafford throws his on the coffee table.
0:59:23 Another chance for Argo
An Argo script is brought to another production company in Iran.
0:59:52 ABC news
Various news sources discuss the hostage crisis. ABC news discusses "the crisis of Afghanistan." Chambers and Siegel watch ABC news.
1:00:28 Sheraton
The Sheraton fax machine in Iran is typing; the word "classified is visible." Mendez is in his hotel room putting together the fake Canadian passports. A letter is slid under his door. After he reads, he wires a telephone to a device and speaks with O'Donnell.
1:01:34 American embassy
Back at the American embassy in Iran, shredded pieces of files are being pieced together to show the faces of the American workers.
1:01:43 Scenic view of Tehran
Mendez is standing on the balcony of his hotel room overlooking Tehran and reviews the drawings of Argo.
1:01:54 “This is a suicide mission”
The houseguests do not take going to the Grand Bazaar at 3:00 PM very lightly. Joe Stafford says he is not going. Mark Lijek points out that they expect six people; if six do not show, they will be caught. Tensions rise. Anders says they have no other choice. Mendez asks the group, specifically Stafford, to trust him after Stafford calls the mission suicide. Stafford says he does not trust him.
1:03:09 American embassy
Many young laborers continue to sift through the shredded documents at the American embassy. The young child working on Cora's file is nearly done.
1:03:27 Grand Bazaar
The preparation for the Grand Bazaar begins. Cora dyes her hair, and Mark disposes of his American diplomat badge. In the living room, Joe and Kathy Stafford watch as Mrs. Taylor picks up the telephone to no response. She seems worried; Anders asks who it was. The Lijeks hug after Cora admits to being scared. Mendez prepares for the day at the Sheraton.
1:04:36 Car
A chained pit bull barks near barbed wire as Mendez purchases a van for the trip to the Grand Bazaar. He arrives at the Canadian ambassador's home to find that the Staffords are not ready.
1:05:13 “I will get you out”
Mendez joins the Staffords at the kitchen table and shares with them his real name, birthplace, family history and that he has a wife and a ten-year-old son. "If you play along with me today I promise I will get you out tomorrow."
1:06:02 The Staffords oblige
Anders, the Lijeks, Schatz, and Mendez are waiting in the car. The Staffords join them; as they drive, a large protest is taking place. They are being approached from all sides of the van; irate Iranians bang on the windows. They pass through safely and begin practicing their new identities.
1:08:37 Director fails
They arrive at the first location at the Grand Bazaar. Mendez introduces the houseguests with their new identities; the Iranian host references a movie to Anders who is supposed to be the director; Anders does not understand.
1:09:14 Photographs
The group walks through the Grand Bazaar as their host describes what items can be found where. There is a great deal of hustle and bustle; the six are uncomfortable. From behind a stand, we see a photographer (perhaps a journalist or government worker) take pictures of each of the houseguests. Kathy Stafford takes pictures of the Grand Bazaar from a Polaroid camera. Iranians continue to stare.
1:10:32 The Taylor’s gate
Sarah sweeps the front steps at the Canadian ambassador's house and takes heed of the large truck approaching the gate of the home.
1:10:52 Polaroid
Kathy Stafford (production manager) is followed by a man after taking pictures of artisan work. He speaks with the host in Farsi, and voices escalate. He is not happy with her taking photos and throws the picture to the ground when she offers it to him.
1:11:25 Militants
Three Revolutionary guards approach Sarah and speak to her through the gate.
1:11:35 We are Canadians!
Back at the market, the man is pointing fingers and yelling at the group. More and more are attracted to the scene. Their host begins yelling at other men and pointing fingers. Mark Lijek translates a bit about him, thinking that they are Americans. There is some pushing and shoving between all parties; Cora's bag is taken from her. She yells "we're from Canada!" The group slips away as Iranians still yell and point fingers.
1:12:15 Sarah
Sarah closes the door as the three men leave; she is shaken up but relieved.
1:13:15 They will be ready tomorrow
Mendez and his production crew rush into the ambassador's home. Taylor asks how they did; Mendez says that tomorrow they will be ready.
1:13:45 Who signed off on this?
Back in Washington, Hamilton Jordan watches coverage of the Iran hostage crisis. He receives a top secret document called "The Hollywood Option" and opens it to find a black and white copy of the Argo movie poster. He is surprised to find that he signed off on this.
1:14:29 “Shoot him, he’s an American spy!”
Mendez drills the houseguests at the Canadian ambassador's home. When Joe Stafford fails to share his cover identity's middle name, Mendez says "shoot him, he's an American spy."
1:15:29 First location: check
Malinov updates O'Donnell that they made it through the first location. O'Donnell is moving quickly through the White House offices. O'Donnell shuts his door and picks up the telephone.
1:15:45 Argo’s off
Mendez receives a telephone call from O'Donnell at the Taylor residence. He calls off the Argo mission. Mendez is furious and says "we are responsible for these people"; O'Donnell responds with "what we are is required to follow orders."
1:17:13 Defeat
Mendez remains in the room, defeated. Cora knocks and says that they are ready for the next round of questioning; Mendez says that they are ready, and the best thing for them to do is relax.
1:17:52 One last party
Music plays, and the houseguests drink and enjoy themselves. Mendez quietly tells Taylor that the mission has been called; Taylor tells him to burn the passbooks before he leaves. "If you tell them now, they will panic; it is better if you just don't show up. It was always a fucked mission." Mendez watches them as they smile and drink; he takes a bottle before retreating to his hotel room.
1:18:34 Yellow slips
Close-up of Mark Lijek on line at the airport. The man appears from the office with the card; Anders is asked a few questions, but the document is still not stamped. At the prompt of Mendez, Anders produces a letter that states the purpose of their visit. The two officials speak amongst themselves, review the document and stamp the passports.
1:18:58 Piecing together the puzzle at the Grand Bazaar
An Iranian looks at the images of the houseguests from the Grand Bazaar.
1:19:10 No sleep
Mendez passes a burning vehicle while driving home. He drinks straight out of the bottle in the hotel room. Music plays over the houseguest's party; they continue to drink, smile, and laugh while Mendez smokes somberly and finishes the bottle. He is in a daze.
1:20:34 He’s late
The sun rises. Mendez looks over the passport; it appears as though he hasn't slept. Meanwhile, Ken Taylor stands in his home with his arms folded as the houseguests prepare for the big day. Chambers receives word that the mission is off. He was told to pack up the office. Mendez continues to look over the passports in his hotel room. Schatz puts a prayer card in his Argo script. Kathy Stafford says "he's late."
1:21:35 Argo is backstopped
Mendez looks down at Tehran from his hotel room. As he looks up, the music stops. The next shot is O'Donnell receiving a phone call from Mendez saying he is taking the houseguests to the airport. Mendez hangs up before O'Donnell can answer. O'Donnell sprints through the office and demands that one of the government officials confirm the seven tickets. The mission is "backstopped" -- President Carter must say yes in order for them to get the tickets.
1:22:26 Time to go
Taylor walks to his front door where Mendez says "time to go." Taylor smiles and lets him in.
1:22:46 Thank you, Canada (2)
O'Donnell sprints to the Operations Center. The houseguests thank Taylor and say goodbye. As they walk to the car to pack their belongings, an argument between O'Donnell and a higher authority figure can be heard.
1:23:38 Destruction of Taylor’s home
The guard of the Canadian ambassador's home destroys the telephone. The Taylors thank him and depart.
1:23:46 Preparing for the Tehran airport: Three checkpoints
Mendez describes the airport's first, second and third checkpoints while O'Donnell is still running through the offices trying to get the appropriate approval. O'Donnell tells Malinov to find the Chief of Staff who is in the West Wing not taking calls. O'Donnell reaches him by acting as his children's school telephoning him for an emergency.
1:24:36 No reservations
The group arrives at the airport when O'Donnell reaches Hamilton. Mendez is the first at the reservations desk; the reservations are not found. As Mendez asks the receptionist to check one more time, approval to confirm tickets is granted. The reservation shows up on the computer screen and the tickets for the seven passengers are printed.
1:26:47 What’s going on in LA?
Malinov confirms with O'Donnell that they have picked up the tickets. He instructs Malinov to call the LA office to be prepared in case Mendez calls. Malinov is worried because he told them to shut it down.
1:26:50 Checkpoint number one
All except Kathy Stafford have made it through the first checkpoint. Her passport is reviewed and accepted; the group moves toward the second checkpoint.
1:27:15 Time is running out
Close-up shot of a young Iranian boy; he has made significant progress on Mark Lijek's document. The woman watching over him takes it to a guard.
1:27:27 Checkpoint number two
Anders is the first to reach the second checkpoint. He submits his passport and yellow declaration card that, unsurprisingly, does not have a match. A second official is called over to assess the situation and takes the yellow slip to another office past an armed official.
1:28:21 Something isn’t right
A male Iranian runs through an office (not within the airport) with Mark Lijek's shredded image. He passes it along to a seated Iranian who compares the shredded image with the black and white photograph from the Grand Bazaar.
1:29:38 Seriously, where’s LA?
Malinov is still on the phone trying to get hold of Chambers and Siegel; the phone rings in an empty office.
1:29:53 The final checkpoint
Mendez leads the group to the third checkpoint at the airport and is not permitted to pass. The group is forced into a private office for questioning.
1:31:15 “They should have boarded by now”
O'Donnell, Malinov, and others are following the group's whereabouts. There has been no response in LA, and they are worried that the group has not boarded yet.
1:31:21 I promise we’re a film crew.
A total of four guards are in the room. The main guard holds their passports and is hostile; he speaks Farsi. As Mendez is about to step in, Joe Stafford begins communicating with him in Farsi to explain their visit. He picks up a newspaper featuring a full-page spread of Argo's movie poster. The guard is still not sold; Stafford presents the drawings and animatedly describes scenes in Farsi. The guard watches him and then interrupts in English; he still does not believe him. Mendez presents his business card and asks him to call their office. The remaining guards look at the drawings.
1:34:00 LA movie scene
An action scene is being shot for a film in LA. Chambers and Siegel are trying to get back to their office, but a young boy does not allow them to pass in fear that they will be in the scene. The phone continues to ring in an empty office; Malinov is seen hanging up the phone.
1:34:22 Final call
The guard sits down with the Studio 6 business card and an American newspaper. He peruses the newspaper before dialing. Final boarding call is announced.
1:34:51 You shall not pass
The movie scene in Hollywood cuts. Chambers and Siegel begin to walk toward the producer's building, and the scene resumes. They are not permitted to pass.
1:35:04 Calling Studio 6
The Iranian airport guard looks at Kevin Costa Harkins' Studio Six business card. The guard picks up the telephone.
1:35:11 Set of action film in LA
Siegel grows more impatient that they are not permitted to pass. The airport guard begins dialing the number.
1:35:19 Telephone rings
Siegel continues to wait with Chambers; the guard finishes dialing the telephone number. The telephone can be seen ringing from an empty room
1:35:30 Patience is running thin
Chambers and Siegel are still standing, waiting to get to the producer's building. The guard is on the telephone tapping the business card.
1:35:36 Call my agent
Siegel cannot wait anymore and says, "Sorry pal, we're going to be in the movie. Call my agent." Chambers and Siegel approach the producer's room.
1:35:45 Patience is running thin
The guard sits back in his desk, takes a deep breath and looks around; there is another shot of the phone ringing in the empty room. Cut back to the guard, who is growing more impatient. He nods his head, leans forward and motions to hang up the telephone.
1:35:57 You’ve reached Studio 6
Chambers answers as the guard is about to hang up the telephone. The guard asks for Kevin Harkins; Chamber replies that he is on a location scout and asks to take a message. Siegel is just walking into the room. The guard hangs up the telephone.
1:36:11 Revolutionaries at the Taylors’ residence
The Revolutionary guards who questioned Sarah return to the Canadian ambassador's home with many armed guards and break down the gate with trucks. They storm the building.
1:36:21 Out of time
The houseguests look worried in the private questioning room. Time is running short; the female airport official announces that the doors are closing for their flight home.
1:36:30 The six are cleared
The doors close. The guard enters the private questioning room and speaks in Farsi; Joe Stafford translates: "we can go." Mendez gifts a few of the drawings to the guards.
1:36:53 Chaos at the Canadian embassy
Back at the ambassador's home, the men run from room to room looking for the houseguests. The leader discovers the broken telephone.
1:37:00 Tehran airport: at the gate
The group approaches the ticket counter. The airport guards are still intrigued by the drawings. The doors open.
1:37:21 Pieces are put together
The Iranians still angrily speak in Farsi at the Taylor's home. The leader begins making a telephone call.
1:37:25 Second thoughts?
Airport officials unlock the gates; the houseguests are shuttled to the airplane. The main airport official skeptically watches Mendez as he leaves.
1:37:42 Revolutionaries contact the airport
A younger flight official in a different part of the airport receives a telephone call; he immediately drops the phone and runs out the door.
1:37:48 Airport shuttle to plane
The doors close; the engine of the bus shuttle stalls. The group is shuttled to the airplane.
1:38:06 Sprinting through the airport
Shots alternate between the young airport official sprinting through the airport, the seven Americans on the shuttle, and boarding of the plane
1:38:38 You shall not pass
The young airport official reaches the private questioning room. He is quickly speaking in Farsi; the passport guard runs to the gate and demands that the doors be opened. The female attendant is grabbed by the wrist; she will not let him pass. She is pushed aside.
1:38:51 Settling into the plane
The guests are on the plane and place their belongings in the overhead compartment.
1:39:00 Obstacles for airport guards
The main Iranian guard tries to use his gun to open the doors.
1:39:04 Passengers, take your seats
Cora and Mark Lijek sit next to one another. They buckle their seatbelts. Mendez becomes more comfortable; Schatz is looking down.
1:39:08 Second obstacle for airport guards
The main Iranian guard shoots the locked automatic doors. The guards run to the next locked gate.
1:39:19 Second in line for departure
The pilot is given the go-ahead to taxi by the ground attendant. Airport control communicates with the pilot; they are second in line for departure. The plane moves forward.
1:40:00 Small army following the plane
View from behind Swiss Air 363; the plane before has taken off. A truck filled with armed guards, and a police car is moving very quickly on the runway to catch the flight. The fleet grows to two police cars and a truck.
1:40:20 Clear for take-off
Swiss Air 363 is cleared for take-off. The police cars and trucks are fifty yards from the back of the plane. The plane begins to move forward; guards are running up the air control tower with guns.
1:40:53 Wild police chase
Mendez looks out of his window to see the trucks and police cars; they caught up to the plane.
1:41:10 Up
The wheels lift off; the police cars screech to a halt and the plane fades toward the mountains.
1:41:22 Guns in traffic control
Guards burst into air traffic control tower; guns are pointed at the air traffic controllers, and they raise their hands.
1:41:34 Wheels up
The plane flies over Tehran. Malinov is on the phone and yells: "we got wheels up!" O'Donnell tells him to wait.
1:41:40 Sigh of relief
All is quiet in the plane. Various close-up shots of the houseguests are visible. A female flight attendant lifts the receiver: "Alcoholic beverages are now available." Mendez smiles, the Staffords embrace. The Lijek's share "I love yous"; Anders and Schatz stand up and embrace. Mendez stares blankly ahead and smiles.
1:42:46 Houseguests are free
Malinov, still on the telephone in Washington, smiles and confirms they are clear. The office celebrates. Siegel hangs up the telephone in LA and runs out of the office to Chambers yelling "they're out!" Both offices continue to laugh and embrace. O'Donnell smiles.
1:43:20 Sarah is safe in Iraq
The Iraqui flag is waving in the air. Sarah has been given asylum in Iraq.
1:43:40 Champagne celebration
Champagne is popped on the flight. Kathy Stafford is still smiling. Joe Stafford stands up to shake Mendez's hand.
1:44:17 Groucho said that?
Siegel and Chambers sit in their production office in LA chatting about and quoting Marx brothers' films.
1:44:29 Who gets the credit?
O'Donnell, Malinov and another American government official smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol around a desk at the office. They discuss the different scenarios of how and when information is to be released.
1:45:08 Thank you, Canada (3)
News reports show Americans cheering with ‘Thank You Canada" signs. The Canadian Prime minister has brief airtime; Day 87: "a sliver of good news." The six houseguests and the Taylors are recognized for their heroism. Representative Thomas P. O'Neil thanks Canada, and people continue to cheer. "Canada will pay for this sovereignty of Iran and forgery of passports." Taylor and his wife are presented flowers in the United States.
1:45:58 Did you see what those Canadians pulled off?
Siegel is on the phone with Mendez in the backyard of his mansion. He tells the story about a waitress who said, "You see what those Canadians pulled off? Why can't we do something like that?" Siegel said: "Argo fuck yourself!"
1:46:15 Submission of evidence
Mendez submits classified information to the CIA chambers. He keeps one of the drawings for himself.
1:46:54 Intelligence star
O'Donnell informs Mendez that they want to give him the intelligence star, the highest award in the United States. The ceremony must be classified; nobody can know about it. Mendez finds it funny that they are going to give it to him and then take it away.
1:48:06 Argo’s in turnaround
Chambers removes the Argo film posters from the producer's room. Someone comes in and asks what happened to his picture; Chambers says it's in turnaround. Chambers smiles to himself.
1:48:25 Streets of American suburbia
Camera shows a shot of an American street through a window. Toys line the windowsill. A car pulls up and stops; Mendez
1:49:19 Argo as a memory
Ian is asleep on his father. Mendez kisses him on the forehead. The camera pans out to show Ian's Star Trek toys up close; in the background is one of the Argo movie posters.