Russians Are Coming, Russians Are Coming, The (1966)

United Artists (Mirisch Corporation of Delaware Production)

Norman Jewison's situation comedy “The Russians Are Coming” benefited from a catchy title and a mildly amusing premise. When a Soviet submarine runs aground off the New England coast, the local residents get hysterical and chaos ensues.

Alan Arkin received a Best Actor nomination for sporting a heavy Russian accent, playing a sailor who goes ashore trying to take some sense into the American citizens.

Grounded in the Cold War mentality, the verbose, slow and obvious comedy has not aged well, but it's nicely cast and includes some funny vignettes based on the encounters between the enemies.

On the Russian side are actors like Theodore Bikel and John Philip Law, who as Russian crewmembers, have to contend with the likes of Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, Brian Keith, Jonathan Winters, Paul Ford, and Michael J. Pollard.

Oscar Nominations: 4

Picture, produced by Norman Jewison
Screenplay (adapted): William Rose
Actor: Alan Arkin
Film Editing: Hal Ashby and J. Terry Williams

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

In 1966, the comedy “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming,” competed for the Best Picture Oscar with the drama “A Man for All Season,” which won Best Picture, Best Actor for Paul Scofield and other awards, , the British comedy “Alfie,” the War drama “The Sand Pebbles,” and “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf” the screen adaptation of Edward Albee's stage play (directed by first-timer Mike Nichols).

The Oscar contest was not only weak, but was marked by great disparity between the Best Picture and Best Directors nominees. Three directors of the top entries were denied nomination by the Directors Branch: Lewis Gilbert for “Alfie,” Jewison for “Russians Are Coming,” and Robert Wise for “The Sand Pebbles.” Instead, the following helmers were nominated: Michelangelo Antonioni for “Blow-Up,” Richard Brooks for “The Professionals,” and French Claude Lelouch for “A Man and A Woman.”

The Film Editing Oscar went to the car-racing adventure, Grand Prix,” though the nomination of Hal Ashby helped promote his future directing career.