Just because The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming was vastly overrated by contemporary critics does not make it any less amusing. The story gets under way when a Soviet submarine accidently gets lodged in a sandbar on the coast of a New England town. In his feature film debut, Alan Arkin plays the sub's second-in-command, who is ordered by commander Theodore Bikel to free up the sub and skeedaddle before an international incident erupts. Hoping to secure a power boat to tug the sub out to sea, Arkin and his men call upon vacationing TV writer Carl Reiner, passing themselves off as Norwegians. When this ruse fails, Arkin is reluctantly compelled to force Reiner at gunpoint to fetch his motorboat, while gentle-natured Russian sailor John Philip Law is left behind to guard Reiner's wife Eva Marie Saint and pretty neighbor girl Andrea Dromm (yes, love blooms). The plot thickens when the locals, notably bullnecked sheriff Brian Keith and superpatriot Paul Ford, spread the word that the Russians have "invaded" their little community. Several slapstick complications later, the Russians and the locals face each other down in the center of the village, weapons at the ready. Fortunately, World War 3 is averted when the Russians and the villagers band together to rescue young Johnny Whittaker from falling to his doom. Enormously popular upon its first release, The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming still works on a slick sitcom level. The film was based on a novel by Nathaniel Benchley, the son of humorist Robert Benchley and the father of Jaws author Peter Benchley.
by Hal Erickson synopsis