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How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran
April 26, 2007 12:17 PM   Subscribe

How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran by Joshuah Bearman. As history keeps on happening, all people and events are becoming linked to each other in strange and inexplicable ways. Once in a while those links surface into view. Here, then, is the key event that connects Jack Kirby and Roger Zelazny to the CIA's handling of the Iranian hostage crisis. Via Wired Magazine and good evening.
posted by JHarris (36 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Neat link, good find.
posted by Snyder at 12:33 PM on April 26, 2007


That was really interesting - thanks!
posted by djgh at 12:39 PM on April 26, 2007


Ah, Kirby. He just keeps on giving.
posted by COBRA! at 12:42 PM on April 26, 2007


This was a great read! Thank you.
posted by aurigus at 12:44 PM on April 26, 2007


I remember reading about this in Reader's Digest several years ago. They left out the bits about Zelazny and Kirby and even the fact that it was a real movie (sort of), which I'd say makes it a lot more interesting.
posted by Partial Law at 12:47 PM on April 26, 2007


Awesme stuff. I'd heard about The Lord Of Light project before, but not the bit about the CIA co-opting it.

The produvtion designs used to be online, but I think they've been taken down - anyone gota mirror?
posted by Artw at 12:50 PM on April 26, 2007


(Comicsy derail: Anyone else here reading G0DLAND? Obviously it's Kirby inspired, but some of the designs remind me of the Lords OF Light stuff more than anything else)
posted by Artw at 12:52 PM on April 26, 2007


Cool story.
posted by justkevin at 12:57 PM on April 26, 2007


Anyone else here reading G0DLAND? Obviously it's Kirby inspired

I bought that recent "jumping-on" recap issue, but just couldn't connect. But I feel like it's something I should like...

posted by COBRA! at 12:59 PM on April 26, 2007


Great story. Thanks.
posted by taliaferro at 1:01 PM on April 26, 2007


Godland is great, and this is coming from a non-comics nerd. Beautiful art.
posted by brundlefly at 1:04 PM on April 26, 2007


COBRA! - I'd advise at least giving the first GN a look, as the recap was a bit, well, recappy. Though obviously if it doesn't connect it doesn't connect.
posted by Artw at 1:06 PM on April 26, 2007


Bra-vo.
posted by doctorschlock at 1:10 PM on April 26, 2007


Awesome tale!
posted by dazed_one at 1:11 PM on April 26, 2007


Imagine the CIA pulling off a success! No red wigs or hands in flames.
posted by Cranberry at 1:16 PM on April 26, 2007


See also: Howard Hughes mining for manganese nodules.
posted by Artw at 1:23 PM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm as big a Zelazny fan as any, but I'm glad that Lord of Light never got made. I don't think it could even be made properly today.

GØDLAND does, in fact, rule. It's a total throwback to the best old Kirbyesque days with enough modernization to keep it from feeling like an exercise in pure retro.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:26 PM on April 26, 2007


Great post and a nice link from ArtW.
posted by exogenous at 1:47 PM on April 26, 2007


This is the kind of post I seek out on MetaFilter. Thanks for sharing it.

Go John Chambers (one of the "producers")!
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 1:53 PM on April 26, 2007


awesome.
posted by juv3nal at 2:03 PM on April 26, 2007


Great story.

I used to know how to do that interlocking cork magic trick, but for the life of me can't remember how to do it. Anybody have a link to an explanation?
posted by Alt F4 at 2:05 PM on April 26, 2007


I love these stories. Thanks.
posted by IronLizard at 2:25 PM on April 26, 2007


That was one fucking cool story.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:00 PM on April 26, 2007


I would have felt like a genius after orchestrating and pulling that off.

On a side-note, people like Joe Stafford, whose reluctance could have doomed them all, are extremely frustrating when they put a wet towel on operations that aren't life or death. Christ, what an asshole.

Lastly, I suspect that this was deliberate:
"Mendez rendez voused with ambassador Ken Taylor in his office..."

Two words, no hyphen. Cute.
posted by invitapriore at 3:02 PM on April 26, 2007


Cool story.

Alt F4: I have no corks to hand and I am not a magician, but I am imagining he switches the cork each hand is holding as he pulls his hands apart?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:11 PM on April 26, 2007


Ok, so someone explain to me how this hasn't been made into a movie yet?

It could be really clever; where the audience doesn't know about the CIA side of it. You have the story of the filming, shown interspersed with "footage" from the film (I know they didn't shoot, but gimme some artistic license here...) and a third sub-plot with the reveal that it's all bullshit and much more complicated than people thought.

Hell, I'd pay money to see that movie.
posted by quin at 3:23 PM on April 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


The cork trick illustrated.

Tony Mendez is the man. When you think about making make-up work on TV, versus making it work face-to-face, there's no comparison.

The best part of the story to me is when they see the Swissair plane is named Argau.

Anyway, don't forget the selfless assistance given by mainly Canadians including Ambassador Ken Taylor, later awarded the US Congressional Medal of Honor.
posted by dhartung at 3:28 PM on April 26, 2007


Ok, so someone explain to me how this hasn't been made into a movie yet?

No shit.

And, dhartung: The United States Government honors hundreds of individuals each year with certificates and medals. Each branch and agency has its own, some better known than others. The Congress is no different. It has four awards that it bestows: the Congressional Gold Medal, the Congressional Award Program, the Medal of Merit, and the U.S. Senate Productivity Award. You may be surprised not to see the popularly known Congressional Medal of Honor. This is because, it is not a Congressional medal at all; it is a military medal, given by the President in the name of the Congress.

Great read.
posted by Cyrano at 4:05 PM on April 26, 2007


What a great story!

Also ..

Geller imagined a Colorado theme park based on Kirby's set designs that would be called Science Fiction Land; it would include a 300-foot-tall Ferris wheel, voice-operated mag-lev cars, a "planetary control room" staffed by robots, and a heated dome almost twice as tall as the Empire State Building.

I would visit this park every summer.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:34 PM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ok, so someone explain to me how this hasn't been made into a movie yet?
Here you go
Escape From Iran: The Canadian Caper
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 5:08 PM on April 26, 2007


Ambassador Ken Taylor, later awarded the US Congressional Medal of Honor.
posted by dhartung



I believe you mean the Congressional Gold Medal

the Medal of Honor (notice no congressional) is the highest military award in the US
All MoH since the begining of WW2 were earned in combat. 60% of the Medals of Honor earned during and after World War II have been awarded posthumously.
posted by Megafly at 5:16 PM on April 26, 2007


There's an episode of the Errol Morris documentary TV series First Person called "The Little Gray Man," in which Morris interviews Tony Mendez, and he relates this experience. Mendez is also on the board of directors of the International Spy Museum. The doc is great and the museum is fun.
posted by jrb223 at 5:17 PM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I love this bit of hypocrisy, that is just too obvious...

...threaten trials for the "spies" that they'd captured...

v.

...He knew there were only three field agents in Iran and that they had all been captured...


and

...the spy shop known for trying to plant explosives ...

v.

...the increasingly treacherous Iranian security apparatus...


Still, good story.
posted by wilful at 8:35 PM on April 26, 2007


Ah yes wilful, I do think the article is a little too pro-CIA, but I think the story requires a little of that in order to work. The CIA is not always a mechanism for evil; their cause, in this story, was noble.
posted by JHarris at 8:49 PM on April 26, 2007


Yes, that was a mindpo. I had "Medal of Honor" on the brain from watching The General, which was based on the Civil War operation for which the medal was created.

Anyway, I'm chagrined, so I give you this CBC report the day after the escape.

Ok, so someone explain to me how this hasn't been made into a movie yet?

Try the slideshow.
posted by dhartung at 9:15 PM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Great post!
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:14 AM on April 27, 2007


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