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The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming

Where to Watch The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming

G
1966

The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming is a 1966 comedy film that exemplifies the time's socio-political climate while being a grand entertainment. Directed by Norman Jewison, it stars Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, and Alan Arkin in a scenario that shakes a peaceful, small American town into a frenzy when a Russian submarine runs aground off the New England coast.

The movie centers on a comedic portrayal of the Cold War’s tensions. It presents an absurd lens through which audiences can view the then-prevalent fear and distrust between the United States and Soviet Russia. Seen as a quirky milestone of 1960s cinema, its lampooned version of the Cold War paranoia not only triggers laughter but also makes a biting commentary on the political scenario of the time.

Alan Arkin, as Lt. Rozanov, gives a standout performance, making his Hollywood debut in this movie. Rozanov is the second in command of a Soviet submarine stranded near a tiny, idyllic island off the New England coast. With their ship stuck, a nine-man team, desperate to avoid an international incident, covertly reaches the shore to seek help for their predicament. Their arrival, however, raises the alarm of an imminent invasion in this otherwise tranquil town, perkily named "Gloucester Island."

The island’s residents, an array of colorful characters led by Walt Whittaker (Carl Reiner) and his wife Elspeth (Eva Marie Saint), are the archetypical small-town Americans. Walt is a successful Broadway playwright seeking peaceful isolation, while Elspeth is a stay-at-home mother, and they have a young son and daughter. Their world turns upside-down when they are awakened by the Russian crew's intrusion.

What follows is a hilarious spiral of misunderstandings and misadventures, with the locals rallying against what they perceive as a full-scale invasion. The town descends into chaos, fuelled by Cold War paranoia and sparked by the comedic language barriers and cultural differences between the Islanders and the Russian crew.

In terms of style, the movie can be classified as manic slapstick, marked by physical comedy and absurd situations. Director Norman Jewison skillfully incorporates farcical elements often seen in silent film comedies, evident in the comically pitched action sequences and characterizations.

The performances by the ensemble cast serve as the movie's backbone. Carl Reiner’s dramatic-and-panicked Walt Whittaker and Eva Marie Saint’s engaging portrayal of an incredulous wife and mother are grounded yet amusing. However, it’s Alan Arkin's brilliant comedic timing as Lt. Rozanov that undoubtedly steals the show, earning him an Academy Award nomination. Arkin navigates between the stern, dutiful officer and the bewildered stranger in a hostile land with ease and charm, using the language barrier to his comedic advantage.

The film’s screenplay, penned by William Rose, brilliantly weaves humor into a hypothetical situation, thereby satirizing the prevailing sentiments of the Cold War era. It’s a delicate balance of almost surreal comedy and underlying social commentary, which Rose executes skillfully.

During a time when the Americans and Russians were considered sworn enemies, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, dared to depict the Russians as human beings like the rest of us, rather than faceless enemies. This leads to a deluge of confusion and knee-jerk reactions from the small town's people, further showing how rampant fear and paranoia can cloud perceptions.

The film's score, composed by Johnny Mandel, lends a jaunty, comedic tone to the film that pairs well with the overall theme and execution. The cinematography by Joseph F. Biroc captures the idyllic scenes of small-town America in stark contrast with the comic chaos that follows.

Despite the comedy, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming addresses an earnest desire for peace amid tense international relations. The film, by painting the picture of the 'enemy' as individuals with their own fears and aspirations, subtly appeals for a world free of unnecessary paranoia and hostility.

The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming stands out as one of the unique comedic treatments of the Cold War era. Its absurd hilarity coupled with a deeper, resounding message about the futility of war and fear makes it a relevant and entertaining watch, even half a century after its release. More than a mere comedy, this film is a creative snapshot of a specific point in history, encapsulating the era's mood in its own rib-tickling way.

The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming is a Comedy, War movie released in 1966. It has a runtime of 126 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.0. It also holds a MetaScore of 69.

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7.0/10
69/100
Director
Norman Jewison
Stars
Alan Arkin, Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, Brian Keith, Jonathan Winters
Genres
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