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The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming is a 1966 Americanmarker comedy film. Based on the Nathaniel Benchley juvenile novel, The Off-Islanders, it was adapted for the screen by William Rose. The movie tells the Cold War story of the comedic chaos which ensues when the Soviet submarine, Спрут (Sprut, Squid), accidentally runs aground near a small New Englandmarker island town.

Plot summary

A Russian submarine draws too close to the New England coast when its captain wants to take a good look at America and runs aground on a sandbar near an island off Cape Codmarker. A nine-man landing party headed by Lieutenant Rozanov (Alan Arkin) is sent in search of a motor launch to help free the submarine. The men arrive at the house of Walt Whittaker (Carl Reiner), a vacationing playwright from New York City anxious to get his wife Elspeth (Eva Marie Saint) and two children, Pete (Sheldon Collins) and Annie (Cindy Putnam) off the island now that summer is over.

Failing to convince the Whittakers that his group are Norwegians, Rozanov draws a gun and promises no harm if the family provides some questions about military on the island (none) and police force (small), and gives them keys to their car. Walt and Elspeth provide answers and the keys, and the Russians depart, leaving behind a young sailor, Alexei Kolchin (John Phillip Law), to guard the Whittakers and, subsequently, their attractive 18-year-old neighbor, Alison Palmer (Andrea Dromm).

The first vehicle taken by the Russians, the Whittakers' station wagon, quickly runs out of gasoline, forcing them to walk. They steal an old sedan from Muriel Everett (Doro Merande), the postmistress; she calls Alice Foss (Tessie O'Shea), the gossipy telephone switchboard operator, and before long, wild rumors throw the entire island into confusion. As levelheaded Police Chief Link Mattocks (Brian Keith) and his bumbling assistant Norman Jonas (Jonathan Winters) try to squelch the civil resistance movement of blustering Fendall Hawkins (Paul Ford), the Russians find and take a boat.

Seven of the Russians head back to their submarine on the boat, while Rozanov goes to get Kolchin, who by now is falling in love with Alison. When the submarine frees itself, with the rising tide, the Russian captain (Theodore Bikel) takes his submarine into the small harbor in search of his missing men, where he finds Rozanov and Kolchin. He threatens to blow up the town unless the other seven Russians are returned to him; the villagers threaten to fire on the submarine crew (on the sub's deck) with rifles and pistols. As tension mounts, a small boy, Jerry Maxwell (Johnny Whitaker) falls from his perch on the church steeple and hangs perilously from a gutter. Forgetting their differences, islanders and Russians unite to form a human pyramid and rescue the child.

With peace and harmony established, the submarine heads out of the harbor with a convoy of villagers in small boats protecting it. The boat with the seven Russians reaches the group shortly thereafter, and the seven board the submarine, just before two U.S. Air Force F-101B Voodoo jets arrive. They break off after seeing the convoy, and the submarine is free to sail to safe waters.

Primary cast

Other first-billed cast

  • Andrea Dromm : Alison Palmer
  • Sheldon Collins : Pete Whittaker (as Sheldon Golomb)
  • Guy Raymond : Lester Tilly
  • Cliff Norton : Charlie Hinkson
  • Michael J. Pollard : Stanley, the airplane mechanic
  • Richard Schaal : Oscar Maxwell


Aerial view of Noyo Harbor in California where part of the film was shot
Despite being set on the fictional "Gloucester Island" off the coast of Massachusettsmarker, the movie was filmed on the coast of Californiamarker, mainly in Mendocinomarker. The harbor scenes were filmed in Noyo Harbor, a small town south of Fort Braggmarker. Because of the filming location on the West Coast, the dawn scene at the beginning of the movie was actually filmed at dusk through a pink filter.

The submarine used in the movie was a fabrication. The United States Navy refused to loan one for the production and barred the studio from bringing a real Russian submarine, forcing the studio to create their own. It was segmented into four parts, each having its own motor to power it. Upon close inspection while watching the film, the viewer may notice the separate parts as the "sub" floats in the water.

The planes were actually from the 84th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, located at the nearby Hamilton Air Force Basemarker. They were the only thing that were based near the location of the supposed island.

The title alludes to Paul Revere's Ride, as does the subplot in which the town drunk (Ben Blue) rides his horse to warn people of the 'invasion'.

According to Norman Jewison, the film — released at the height of the Cold War — had considerable impact in both Washingtonmarker and Moscowmarker. It was one of the few films to portray the Russians in a positive light. Senator Ernest Gruening mentioned the film in a speech in Congress, and a copy of the film was screened in the Kremlinmarker.


Awards (wins):

Awards (nominations):

Audio clip

  • "" (Alan Arkin as Lt. Rozanov)

See also


External links

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