Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming The (1966)
Today it’s really hard to believe that this average (and highly dated) Cold War comedy was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award earning its producer Norman Jewison (who also directed it) his first Oscar nomination. Based on Nathaniel Benchley’s novel Off Islanders the screenplay was written by William Rose (The Ladykillers (1955)) whose work was also nominated as was the film’s Editing and Lead Actor Alan Arkin his first leading role. Arkin leads a group of nine Russian sailors onto the fictional New England coast Gloucester Island when their captain (Theodore Bikel) runs their submarine aground in the shallows. They kidnap a family (Carl Reiner who plays a romantic comedy writer Eva Marie Saint and their children) that’s renting a summer home on the island in order to use their automobile in hopes of finding a boat. Of course hysteria among the island’s residents follows as do supposedly comical frequently slapstick situations. Brian Keith plays the initially skeptical local police chief Jonathan Winters is one of his officers and Paul Ford plays an overly Gung ho retired military officer. There’s even a cute little romance which develops between one of the English speaking sailors (John Phillip Law) and the family’s blonde babysitter (Andrea Dromm). Child actor Johnny Whitaker who appeared with Keith in the TV series Family Affair and Michael J. Pollard (uncredited) are among those who also appear.