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BLOG: Matty's Movies: 'Argo'

"Argo" is a powerful film that will place you right back into the Iranian hostage crisis.

Where were you Nov. 4, 1979? I'm not sure where I was. Maybe I was playing in the back yard, flying my hula-hoop spaceship with my brothers. I was Commander Rom, and my brother Andy was Captain Juno, and I forget what Doopa's character's name was, but we were some imaginative children.

Maybe I wasn't flying my hula-hoop spaceship at all. Maybe my brothers and I were pulling on our "Stretch Arm Strong" doll until all the jelly poured out of the inside of it.

Or maybe, just maybe, my mother sent me to Friendly's to pick up a tuna fish sandwich for the nice old lady that lived in my attic, named Catherine Connolley. I'd bring her up the sandwich and she'd always give me a bite. I loved those tuna fish sandwiches. Until one day when I found out that "tuna fish" was fish. (How did I not put that together?) You see, I had a fish-stick once when I was little and I absolutely hated it. I made a vow with myself to never eat fish again. So, once I figured out that the sandwich was fish, I placed the 'sangy' down and I haven't had a bite of our underwater companions since. Later on in life I made a new vow, a funnier vow that is easier to explain to people why I don't eat fish. I just tell them that I don't eat anything that I can't punch. Have you ever tried to punch a fish underwater? It's impossible.

So that's why I don't eat fish.

Now, I don't know what is weirdest, me and my brothers' spaceship parties, my disdain for eating our aquatic friends, or the fact that we had a one-hundred year old lady living in our attic! I'm still to this day trying to figure out that one. Who the hell was she?

Anyways, I am WAY OFF TOPIC!

Where were you Nov. 4, 1979?

I know where I wasn't. I wasn't at the American Embassy in Iran on Nov. 4, 1979. But I know who was... Bill Keough.

Time to get serious. Bill Keough was one of the Americans taken hostage that day when our embassy was taken over by Iranian students and loyalists to the Ayatollah Khomeini. This movie, "Argo" does not directly revolve around his story, but it sure made me think of him. I'll get back to Mr. Keough in a bit.

"Argo" is the true story of how six Americans escaped capture during the overtaking of the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979. These six managed to escape and find refuge in the home of the Canadian Ambassador. The people running the takeover think that they have captured all the Americans. But soon they will figure out that six have escaped. They want those six back.

Enter C.I.A. agent Tony Mendez. (Ben Affleck) Mendez is an exfiltration specialist. He gets people out of where they shouldn't be. All the plans that the C.I.A. has come up with are terrible. One of their plans was to have the refugees pretend to be tourists and bike 300 miles to the border, during the winter. Worst plan ever! Mendez concocts a scheme where he goes into Iran as a movie director looking for location sites to shoot his science-fiction film "Argo." Remember now, this is the late 70's early 80's, so "Star Wars" (my favorite movie ever) is everywhere! People can't get enough of it and everybody and their sister is trying to make the next big Star Wars type movie. (Wow, now that I think of it, maybe that's what me and my brothers were doing in the back yard.) It is plausible that this plan could work. They said in the movie that it was "the best of their bad ideas."

Mendez has to learn to be a fake director and all six hostages have to learn to be fake producers, cameramen, art directors, set designers and whatnot for their escape to work. If this fails then they will be strung up by their necks out in the Iranian streets for all the world to see.

I'm sorry, I feel like I'm writing a book report for my 8th grade English teacher right now and I don't want to do that. That's when I write too much and end up ruining the movie for you. (Much like I did with "The Perks of being a Wallflower." I re-read my review and realized I told you the entire movie... oops, my bad.)

So, what I'll tell you now is, GO SEE THIS MOVIE! It is fantastic and is wonderfully shot by director Ben Affleck. He has really grown as a director. I've seen him mature from directing, "Gone Baby Gone" to "The Town" and now to "Argo." All great films, but I can tell that he's really getting the hang of it. (And I should know, I'm a professional.) Plus, he's a Boston boy and you got to stick with your Boston roots. (Even though he did make "Gigli." Everyone's allowed one mistake, right?)

Affleck and George Clooney produced this film, and they got some great actors signed on. Bryan Cranston was great as Tony Mendez' boss. John Goodman as a costume/make-up designer was also splendid. But the man who may have stolen the show was Alan Arkin. He played fake producer/director Lester Siegel on the fake film "Argo," who, in reality was helping out the C.I.A. He was a true American. Since this was a true story, he (as in Lester Siegel) had to keep his mouth shut about all this until it was de-classified in 1997 by President Clinton. Alan Arkin had some great lines too. You MUST see this film because of one funny line he delivers.

I also loved how Affleck began the film. He storyboarded the history of Iran and brought you up to date with what was going on at the time. He also vividly re-enacted the hostile takeover. You saw sheer anger and fear in the eyes of both the hostages and the Iranians. It was a very compelling film.

Now, I'd like to get back to Bill Keough. I never met the man. I was 9 years old when he was taken hostage. I don't remember the day the crisis began, but I surely remember the days, weeks and months after that. My parents were fixated on the television at 6 o'clock every night. I have a funny feeling that's where I was first introduced to anchormen and woman Tony Pepper, Jack Williams and Shelby Scott, WBZ channel 4 news. It's weird, I can't remember my siblings' birthdays, but I've never forgotten those three people? It's so odd how your mind works. I remember my parents watching intently as this story unfolded. They were very serious and were always telling us EIGHT children to keep it down. I remember catching glimpses of the TV and seeing people blindfolded. But I never really grasped all of it until Jan. 20, 1981, when the hostages were released. That was 444 days after their capture.

The reason I can remember all this is because my parents took all of us children to Mr. Keough's homecoming parade in Waltham. I remember my mother telling me we were going to see an American hero... but all I heard was we were going to a parade. I'm not sure Mr. Keough even lived in Waltham, but his mother did and that's why there was this big event for him. The streets were packed. There was so much cheering going on you could barely hear yourself. American flags were waving everywhere and everyone was just so proud to be from the U.S. of A.

From when I caught my first glimpse of Mr. Keough, all I could remember was that he was really tall. I still didn't completely understand what was going on that day but I was moved by all of the emotion that was around me. Especially from my parents. It was years later, in high school when I realized how frustrating, emotional and high-strung of a time that was.

Mr. Keough was a hero to me, maybe my first, I'm not sure, I have a hard time keeping things cronologically correct. But without a doubt, he was an American hero and patriot.

Sadly William Keough died in late November, 1985 of Lou Gerhig's disease.

I'm glad I got to meet the man, even if it was only a glimpse from 40 to 50 feet away.

Matthew W. Kelley, Norwood Patch, reporting.

Fun Fact: OK, this isn't a fact, but in the movie "Argo" they say there were 40 hostages, but from all the articles I looked up online, I keep reading that there were 52. Which one is fact? That is your homework assignment this week.

Fun Matty Fact: My brothers and sisters and I had a robot named 2XL back in the early 80's. (Anyone remember it?) It told stories where you could decide how the story would go. It played 8-track tapes and it was a lot of fun. I saw one in this movie and it brought back some great memories... until, like everything in the Kelley household, we broke it.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Zzz October 24, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Mr. Keough's brother lived in Westwood at the time, and he was also very tall. They might have been twins. Great movie indeed!
Matty W. Kelley October 24, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Wow, I didn't know that... I was young, but I clearly remembered his height. Thanks for the info. And yeah, it was definitely a great flick. (Maybe an Oscar nomination for Best Director.)

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