The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! is an outstanding cold-war comedy depicting the havoc created on a mythical Massachusetts island by the crew of a grounded Russian sub.
Nathaniel Benchley’s novel The Off-Islanders got its title from New England slang for summer residents, herein top-featured Carl Reiner, wife Eva Marie Saint, and their kids, Sheldon Golomb and Cindy Putnam.
Basically, story concerns aftermath of an accidental grounding of the Russian sub by overly curious skipper Theodore Bikel, who sends Alan Arkin ashore in charge of a landing party to get a towing boat. The wild antics which follow center around sheriff Brian Keith, sole resident who manages to keep cool except when arguing with Paul Ford, firebrand civil defense chief (self appointed) who arms himself to repel the ‘invasion’ with a sword and an American Legion cap.
Arkin, in his film bow, is absolutely outstanding as the courtly Russian who kisses a lady’s hand even as he draws a gun.
English music hall vet Tessie O’Shea, also in film debut, is very good as the island’s telephone operator who contributes to the spread of the ‘invasion’ rumors, and her scenes with Reiner, in which they are lashed together and attempt to escape, is a comedy highlight.
1966: Nominations: Best Picture, Actor (Alan Arkin), Adapted Screenplay, Editing