Iran to Sue ‘Argo’

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Exceptional Depravity, a new crime book, and Hollywood Party: Stalinist Adventures in the American Movie Industry. He has written for City Journal California, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and many other publications.


When Argo hit screens last fall the Iranian regime did not react like those protesting the Muhammad video, but they surely didn’t give it five stars. When Argo won the Academy Award for best picture of 2012, Iran’s Fars News denounced it as an “anti-Iran” film “produced by the Zionist company Warner Bros.” Iran didn’t like it that Michelle Obama made the presentation and didn’t care for Ben Affleck’s speech about Iranians living in “terrible circumstances.” Now Iran is escalating the conflict.

Iran plans to sue Hollywood over Argo because of the film’s “unrealistic portrayal” of the Iranian nation. Their chosen lawyer is Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, who also represented Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, also known as Carlos the Jackal. Coutant-Peyre told reporters, “We will be able to block distributors of the movie, force them to apologize and challenge them to confess that the movie is nothing but a sheer lie.” That’s something of a stretch because Argo goes the second mile on the back story.

In documentary-style footage and commentary, Argo notes that Iran is part of a great Persian legacy, that duly elected Mohammed Mossadegh nationalized the oil business, and that in 1953 the USA and Britain engineered a coup and installed the Shah, portrayed as an evil man who tortures the people.

As the film notes, the Shah did fall ill and leave Iran in 1979, and president Jimmy Carter brought him to the United States. Then Iranian militants invaded the U.S. embassy in Tehran. All that is true, but Argo, though rich in detail, fails to capture the full ferocity. The Ayatollah Khomeini doesn’t get much screen time with his “Great Satan” charges, but viewers do understand that Iran was a dangerous place for Americans.

It was also true that six American embassy staffers got out by passing themselves off as Canadians making a movie. That did happen, but Argo does not convey the full extent of Canadian support. For example, it does not mention Prime Minister Joe Clark, who readily signed on to the exfiltration. Without Clark, there would have been no “Canadian Caper,” as it was called at the time. Iran only released the hostages when Ronald Reagan took over the presidency, but the movie does not show Reagan.

Argo shows an Iranian official warning that “Canada will pay,” but now the Iranian regime plans to sue not Canada but Hollywood, a place not exactly short on unrealistic portrayals. As Richard Grenier noted in The Marrakesh One-Two, Arab countries are not much like Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. As for sheer lies, consider Mission to Moscow, from Warner Brothers.

The 1943 movie was so indulgent of Stalin that it got dubbed “Submission to Moscow,” the first Soviet production to appear from a mayor American studio. The film supports Stalin’s charges that Zinoviev, Kamenev, and all the old Bolsheviks he executed were fascist agents. The Nazi-Soviet pact is not mentioned and the film justifies Stalin’s invasion of Finland. But the Finns and Poles did not sue Hollywood.

Disney made Night Crossing, based on an actual case of East Germans fleeing the Communist regime in a homemade hot-air balloon. The Honecker regime did not sue Disney. In Marathon Man, a U.S. government agent is in league with a Nazi war criminal, and one gets the feeling that octogenarian Nazis wield huge influence in the United States. But the U.S. government did not sue the filmmakers.

In virtually all Oliver Stone’s movies the USA is a villain, certainly so in his Untold History of the United States. Argo was a welcome change from that trend, but Iran plans to sue Hollywood, and that may be a good thing.

The lawsuit is unlikely to succeed but does confirm the intolerance of the Iranian regime that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper calls a “clear and present danger,” and which is now pursuing nuclear weapons. Charges that the movie is a “sheer lie” may prompt more people to see Argo, about as faithful a representation of what happened in Iran in 1979 as one could expect from the American commercial cinema.

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  • SCREW SOCIALISM

    May the ayatollah khomeni continue to burn in Hell for all eternity.

    • Bakunin

      Jeez, dude… Get a life. Get some of those synapses snapping. Oh, no…. You don't have any

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    This is a hoot, in as such as Argo really was a hit job, but not in the way most think. In fact, even though the mullahs are in a tizzy, it is mainly due to other considerations. Chiefly, the fact that anyone dared to execute a film, which showed that they took over Iran by force, which was an outgrowth of the embassy takeover.

    In any case, here is some truth telling – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/10/14/hollywood-lib

    BTW, my trusted LA contact, someone who is deeply in the know, put me onto this subject. It was too enraging, even for a hard nosed investigative journalist, and he wanted the message spread wide and far.

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Anyone that takes a message from a Hollywood movie is a mental boob, it's just a movie and
    where a story line may have a life like expositon it is still just a movie which today are forgotten
    in about a day. Let the Mullahs squirm and scream, that may be a testimony of first thier stupidity
    and secondly I did not like the film much and was put off with ARGO…..yourself which may
    be all they got out of it and see how the Mullahs hating perversity (lol) must be outraged.
    William

  • BS77

    We thought ARGO was a terrific movie, very well constructed and produced….with appreciation to Mr. Affleck for his great direction and period piece authenticity….great film. What the ayotollahs and the mullahs cannot stand is seeing their rotten "revolution" shown as its…..mobs of hysterical lunatics going crazy in the streets… Since then the oppression of the Persian people has been terrible, and many Persians languish in the prisons or have been killed by this regime. . Literally millions of Iranians have wisely fled the tyranny and repression.

  • tagalog

    Like many a plaintiff in a lawsuit claiming defamation, Iran is in a delicate position regarding the events of the first year or two of the Khomeini regime. You always have to be careful about bringing your character into question; somebody might take you seriously.

  • SCREW SOCIALISM

    The former hostages of the islamofascist regime of ran need to sue the regime for unlawful detention.

    And collect damages – hundreds of billions of dollars worth.

    • Malatesta

      Bet you went to law school, SS. The GiantJerkOff School of Law, huh?

      Yeah, go represent them for billions of dollars

  • Omar

    There are a few misconceptions with the film. Mossadegh was not elected prime minister at all. The Iranian parliament appointed him as prime minister, and the Shah (who was already in power as head of state) approved and ratified the choice. The coup came not when the Stalinist/Maoist Mossadegh centralized the oil companies, but when he got into a power struggle with the Shah and the rest of the government. Mossadegh wanted to become a Stalinist/Maoist dictator aligned with the Soviet Union and China. Also, the Ayatollah was happy to see Mossadegh go because he viewed the deposed would-be autocrat as an infidel. Anti-Americanism and anti-Westernism in Iran is as a result of the mullahs viewing them as "infidels" and "Islamophobes", not because of the anti-Mossadegh coup at all. Read Dinesh D'Souza's Townhall article for more about the truth on Iran: http://townhall.com/columnists/dineshdsouza/2007/

  • dr.music

    This is all small fry….
    Our science had a good run…soon our science
    will be trashed with all its burnable research.
    We are finished …..Since 1400 years a mental-small-pox has been spreading across to us on this planet.
    ….we are done. Sorry kids….We had no guts to call feces feces. Within a 100 more years a poisonous fungus called islam will have eaten us and our children's minds and will also have eaten democracy and science and souls for breakfast. Muslims will even
    burn and bomb our zoos. The fungus that is islam will literally burn our planet to ashes.

    That’s when apes will once again come out thru muslims. Even in the looks of the cultees ….Hair and smelly and uniform clothes and regressed brains…….So much for Darwin….An idiot called moremad actually reverse-engineered evolution. WOW !!

    What no religion could not do, a dirty young cult did and will continue doing with mass birth rates and zero education and / or parallel brain-washing and legalized paedophilia…the suppression of women and men and free thought.

    We're done…..Darwin here we go…….. back to monkey-land.

    Now that's real research……look around you ….you might as well shave the 'tache and grow a violent beard and wear some idiotic robe with badly fitting-ankle exposed leg-wear. …Arabic has no word for a pedophile or pedophilia….the fungus that is islam is the ultimate winner of earth. The GREAT Darwin missed the greatest evolutionary turn in ape-human-ape history….just by a couple of centuries. What to do ? Humans could not see the ape in the arab of the species. Under the skin the arabs were crafty bio-engineering apes that slowly and forcefully cloned the full planet. And one master-document was all they had. Fantastic. Our children are done for. What to do ? All we can do is watch for Darwin…We owe it to Darwin.

  • dr.music

    OOPS….What no religion could not do, a dirty young cult did and will continue doing wi………Should actually read …..What no religion could do, a dirty young cult did and will continue doing with mass birth rates and zero education and / or parallel brain-washing and legalized paedophilia…the suppression of women and men and free thought.

  • Bill

    So lets run the Scenario…..iran sues…..they have to set a trial date and place….where will they hold the trial? If in iran, no American lawyer would dare go for fear if they win, they will regret it. If its held in the US, they will think they would not get a fair judge or jury. They would be right. So this suit will go no where

  • Questions

    "Argo" was a fantastic movie. And the fact that the iranian government despises it merely elevates it another notch. What's next — a lawsuit by Al-Qaeda against the makers of "Zero Dark Thirty?"

  • Ghostwriter

    To be honest,I don't know where the Iranian government has a leg to stand on with it's suit. Much of what is presented is the truth,no matter how they try to hide it.