Last updated: February 28. 2013 10:18PM - 2311 Views

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There’s a reason “Argo” (2012, Warner, R, $29) topped so many critics’ top 10 lists last year and grabbed Best Picture honors at Sunday’s Academy Awards. It’s suspenseful, witty and smart and manages to bring a dark chapter of U.S. history to unforgettable dramatic life.

And if that wasn’t enough to recommend it: it has a NEPA connection.

Based on a true story, Ben Affleck’s third directorial outing is the riveting, 1970s-set saga of Tony Mendez (Affleck), a CIA “exfiltration expert” who masterminded a cockeyed yet effective plan to save six Americans in Tehran after an assault on the U.S. embassy.

By posing as the Canadian producer of a sci-fi movie called “Argo,” Mendez hopes to get himself inside Iran, then smuggle out the Americans as part of his crew.

The story that unreels in “Argo” is, in many ways, a footnote to the larger Iran hostage crisis in which 52 people were captured at the U.S. Embassy and held by Iranian students for 444 days.

A political nightmare for President Jimmy Carter, the whole mess causes Carter’s chief of staff Hamilton Jordan (played by Kyle Chandler) to comment, “A man in Scranton is placing a flag on his lawn for every day of captivity. He runs out of lawn, and (Edward) Kennedy wins the primary.”

Oddly enough, one of those captives was Olyphant native Michael Metrinko, who graduated from Scranton Preparatory School in 1964.

Just released on DVD and Blu-ray last week, “Argo” is not to be missed.

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