Monday, November 29, 2021

#2,669. The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966)


The Cold War may be over, but the laughs in this 1966 Norman Jewison comedy are timeless!

A Russian submarine has accidentally run aground near a small Island in New England. The sub’s Captain (Theodore Bikel) sends nine of his men, including Lt. Yuri Rozanov (Alan Arkin) and sailor Alexei Kolchin (John Philip Law), on a reconnaissance mission to locate a powerboat big enough to tow them out to sea. Stopping first at the home of writer Walt Whittaker (Carl Reiner) and his wife Elspeth (Eva Marie Saint), the Russians then make their way into the nearby town.

Unfortunately, the Russian patrol next encounters postmistress Muriel Everett (Doro Merande), who alerts switchboard operator Alice Foss (Tessie O’Shea) that the Russians have invaded! Alice immediately calls police chief Link Matthews (Brian Keith), who, though skeptical, tells her to contact his deputy Norman (Jonathan Winters) and a couple of others.

Of course, being the town gossip, Alice can’t help but spread the news that the Russians have invaded, and before long everyone has gathered in the town center, determined to defend their homeland.

The cast assembled for The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming may not be as star-studded as Stanley Kramer’s It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, but it isn’t far behind. Along with those already mentioned, the movie features Paul Ford as a gung-ho ex-military officer who assumes control of the civilian “militia” and former silent star Ben Blue as the town drunk.

The entire cast gets in on the fun; Reiner generates his share of laughs as Walt Whittaker, the first to encounter the Russians and the only one who realizes they aren’t a threat, while Alan Arkin shines as the Soviet officer besieged on all sides by panicky Americans. There’s also a sweet romantic subplot, in which John Philip Law’s Alexei falls for the Whittaker’s babysitter, Alison (played by newcomer Andrea Dromm), and the final showdown between the submarine and the townsfolk has a surprising - albeit very satisfying - conclusion.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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