The Russians are Coming...


D: Norman Jewison

United Artists/The Mirisch Company (Norman Jewison)

US 1966

126 mins


W: William Rose [based on the novel "The Off Islanders" by Nathaniel Benchley]

DP: Joseph Biroc

Ed: Hal Ashby & J. Terry Williams

Mus: Johnny Manuel

PD: Robert F. Boyle

Carl Reiner (Walt Whittaker), Eva Marie Saint (Elspeth Whittaker), Alan Arkin (Lt. Yuri Rozanov), Brian Keith (Chief Link Mattocks), Jonathan Winters (Officer Norman Jonas), Theodore Bikel (The Russian Captain)

A Cold War farce adapted from Nathaniel Benchley's 1961 novel, this madcap comedy opens with a Soviet submarine getting beached off the shore of a small New England island community and the ensuing panic causes a tizzy amongst the locals.

Very much a product of its time, it's a caper full of spoof-like humour not too dissimilar to It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World though some of the performances are very well delivered, particularly Alan Arkin and Theodore Bikel, who could easily pass for actual Russians.

The general message is quite clever, that misinformation can spread quite easily and can be the root cause of panic in the streets. Still, it's not dated particularly well and is very America-centric.  The most bizarre thing about the movie, by far, is how it managed to sneak into the Best Picture nominees for 1966. It's jovially amusing at best, and would probably mean much more if originally watched at the time of initial release.


Alan Arkin in The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!
Alan Arkin in The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!