The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!


(out of 5)

A Russian submarine traversing the depths of the Atlantic off the coast of New Hampshire accidentally runs aground and strands its Soviet passengers on shore, witnessed by a little boy whose parents (, ) don’t believe his stories about Russian spies on the beach until they break into their house and cause mayhem.  People are tied up and guns are brandished but the Russians, led by in his first major role, just need a boat that will help drag their vessel back into the ocean’s depths.  The word about their presence gets around town and inspires no end of Cold War-tinged knee-jerk reactions from a sleepy town that hasn’t had anything surprising happen to it in a very long time.  Norman Jewison shoots this delightful comedy like a high quality television show of the period, all bright, even lighting and squarely captured medium shots of actors against solid colours, but there’s great artifice in the humorous way that the script keeps twisting up its situations to show how hollow all the personal complications are: there’s never really much of a threat in any of the interactions between these people except for the assumptions and prejudices they have of each other.  It’s not quite Dr. Strangeloveparticularly as Arkin’s muggy performance (he always looks like he knows he’s being funny, like a bad Saturday Night Live actor) keeps it from being truly great, but it is a lot of fun.

USA, 1966

Directed by Norman Jewison

Screenplay by , based on the novel The Off-Islanders by

Cinematography by

Produced by Norman Jewison

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by ,

Cast Tags:  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Academy Award Nominations
Best Actor (Alan Arkin as “Rozanov”)
Best Film Editing (Hal Ashby, J. Terry Williams)
Best Picture (Norman Jewison, producer)
Best Writing (Screenplay–based on material from another medium) (William Rose)

Golden Globe Awards
Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical
Best Actor-Comedy or Musical (Alan Arkin)

Most Promising Newcomer-Male (John Phillip Law)
Most Promising Newcomer-Male (Alan Arkin)
Best Screenplay

British Academy Award Nominations
Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Fiml Roles (Alan Arkin)
UN Award

Directors Guild Award Nomination
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (Norman Jewison)

National Board of Review Award
Top Ten Films

New York Film Critics Award Nomination
Best Actor (Alan Arkin)

Writers Guild Award Nomination
Best Written American Comedy


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