HTF REVIEW: "The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Sep 29, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    The Russians Are Coming
    The Russians Are Coming




    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1966
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 126 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
    Subtitles: Englis, French, Spanish



    For those of you who know how much I love It's A
    Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
    , you can truly see why
    I am very excited about MGM's DVD release of The
    Russians Are Coming..., a comedic farce with
    an all-star cast that allowed us to laugh at the
    distrust existing between Americans and Russians
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    The time is the cold war. A submarine filled with
    a small group of Russian sailors makes a wrong turn
    and runs aground on an island off the New England
    coast. The landing party headed by Lieutenant Rozanov
    (Alan Arkin) makes its way to the nearest home it
    can find. They hold Walt Whittaker (Carl Reiner)
    and his family at gunpoint while the rest of the
    group search for a motorboat to tow their vessel
    off of the sand barge.
    The Russians are tense. Their quest must be
    accomplished as quickly as possible since they
    don't want to be captured and imprisoned as spies.
    They are observed, however, by an early rising
    old biddy who manages to report the incident to
    an unbelieving Chief of Police (Brian Keith) before
    the phone line is cut.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    As gossip start to spread, a torrent of escalating
    rumors begins as the hastily armed locals become
    convinced that their island is the beachhead of a
    full scale Russian invasion of America. The Police
    Chief tries to keep his hysterical assistant (Jonathan
    Winters) under control as the Russians try to
    avoid detection, avoid capture, and avoid the start
    of a small war.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    This is an easy film to recommend for anyone that
    loves terrific slapstick comedy with a truly great
    all-star cast. It's one of the last films of its
    kind that reminds you how good a comedy can be
    without resulting to today's toilet humor standards.
    As in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, the
    humor comes mostly through its talented cast rather
    than what was happening in the film. You can't
    help but laugh at Alan Arkin bumbling his way through
    the English language, or watch Carl Reiner's face
    as he continually is goaded by his young son who
    thinks he is a traitor to his country, or as he
    tries to escape from being tied face to face with
    telephone operator, Alice Foss. Then there's
    Brian Keith, who walks through this entire madcap
    adventure as if he was John Wayne, never flinching
    for a single moment. How about Paul Ford, one of
    film's most recognizable comedic supporting actors
    who is just hilarious as the hawkish right-wing
    head of the American legion.
    Yes, folks, they don't make comedies like this
    anymore...and even if they did....there aren't
    comics today who could equally fill the shoes
    of these greats.
    How is the transfer?
    This transfer was everything I could hope for
    but yet never expected. I would never have
    thought that MGM would have given priority to
    this film's transfer. Obviously they did, as
    this transfer nearly looks like a brand new
    print. Nothing looks dated here. What you will
    immediately notice after the film's opening credits
    is the natural warmth of this film. Picture is
    a little soft, but nicely detailed with solid
    blacks and stable colors that probably have never
    looked this good on any format. Film blemishes
    are minimal, and the only problem I see with the
    transfer is the usual noise that shows up in shots
    of blue sky. A truly beautiful transfer.
    The mono soundtrack lacks any real dynamic range,
    though it comes across quite strongly with no
    audible background hiss. The sound is a little
    too much in the high end, causing the vocals of
    the Russian chorals to slightly overmodulate at
    times.
    Special Features
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    The supplements on this DVD are very small, but great
    things come in small packages.
    [​IMG]
    Director Norman Jewison hosts a wonderful new
    documentary called The Russians Are Coming To
    Hollywood in which he describes the timing of
    this film's release. It's the height of the Cold
    War, and both Americans and Russians are deeply
    paranoid of attacks from either side. Here comes
    William Rose, one of the best screenwriters of
    the '60 and 70's, who put together an incredible
    screenplay that gave insight into human behavior
    under chaotic conditions. Norman describes that
    as a Canadian, he felt he was making a film for
    both Americans and Russians. Hollywood and the
    United States Navy, on the other hand, were
    absolutely shocked at the film's premise and
    offered little initial support for the film.
    It's kind of cool to learn that the film was
    shot on the California coast as opposed to the
    film's East Coast setting, because it was just
    too cold. Some interesting photographic tricks
    were used to simulate the sun rising on the opposite
    coast. It's also interesting to learn that this
    was Alan Arkin's big film debut, and as a result,
    it was difficult to sell him to the studios as an
    actor. We learn how Jewison managed to pull it off.
    We also learn how the Director pulled together a
    cast of greats, including nabbing silent film star
    Ben Blue as a village drunk forever trying to catch
    a horse. There's some brief credit given to the
    film's cinematography and musical score. This
    entire documentary rests firmly on the shoulders
    of Norman Jewison. With absolutely no cast
    interviews, nor behind-the-camera footage, this
    documentary succeeds where most others wouldn't
    just because we get to watch a wonderful and
    talented Director tell a story about film he made.
    (length: approx. 23 minutes)
    [​IMG]
    This is an absolute gem! The film's original
    theatrical trailer turns out to be a terrific
    promotional piece that features Carl Reiner
    interviewing Russian Lieutenant Rozanov, who
    invites you to come to his apartment to watch the
    film. You'll love this trailer!
    Final Thoughts
    [​IMG]
    Watching The Russians are Coming, The Russians
    Are Coming takes me back to a time when comedy
    was truly golden. In these times, it's hard to
    imagine just how funny a film could be with no sex,
    objectionable profanity, and little violence. This
    is one of the last films of its kind, and its one
    that you'll savor through lots of laughter. It's
    a film that dared to suggest that Americans and
    Russians could have a peaceful coexistence. Imagine
    that!
    Not to be missed! Buy it blindly!
    Release Date: October 15, 2002
     
  2. Kurt N

    Kurt N Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree 100%! This is a great film and it looks like MGM has done a really nice job with it.

    I'd also like to recommend (GASP) reading the book. It is one of the few novels I have found to be laugh-out-loud funny.

    Thanks for bringing this little film to the attention of the members of HTF.
     
  3. Roy Van Nostrand

    Roy Van Nostrand Stunt Coordinator

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    Everybody to get from street!
     
  4. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Great review! I can't wait for it to come out now. (more so than before)!
    Thanks!
    GLenn
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I'm getting ready to date myself, but I saw this film during it's theatrical run and it was one of my favorite comedies from my childhood. Of course, the dvd is preordered and I should have it soon.



    Crawdaddy
     
  6. BarryR

    BarryR Supporting Actor

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    Wonderful review; I never saw the film during its original release, but I recall all the excitement it created--it also had a delightful Jack Davis movie poster, the same artist who did MAD WORLD. On a minor, nitpicky note though (forgive me), Ben Blue was never exactly a silent film star--he appeared in burlesque etc. early on, but his film work was primarily in the '30s onward, most notably in the '40s as a reliable second banana. I will now take a pie in the face. [​IMG]
     
  7. Jon Sheedy

    Jon Sheedy Stunt Coordinator

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    I also agree 100% with you on this film Ron. This type of comedy is long gone and IMHO sorely missed. You've stated perfectly my thoughts on these brilliant comedians, especially Paul Ford...this guy did so many films and was always hilarious and never failed to make me laugh out loud!

    This film deserved a quality presentation on DVD and I'm very glad to hear that it has gotten one.

    One of my absolute must have comedies, looking forward to grabbing it ASAP.

    Jon
     
  8. Michael Gilliam

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    Never seen it, never even heard of it, but upon reading your review, I'm convinced and will definitely pick it up. Looks like a great transfer indeed, thanks for the review!
     
  9. Jeff_A

    Jeff_A Screenwriter

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  10. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    "Whitaker Walt!"

    One of my parents' favorite films— I'm getting a copy for myself and for them. Great stuff.
     
  11. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Yeah it's definately on my list, funny film and from thos screen caps it looks like another good MGM Transfer
     
  12. PaulaJ

    PaulaJ Supporting Actor

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    I saw this in the theater too, and absolutely loved it!

    Can't wait to watch the DVD, thanks for the review, Ron.
     
  13. Brian McHale

    Brian McHale Supporting Actor

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  14. Hugh Jackes

    Hugh Jackes Supporting Actor

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    Question:

    Ron, my parents took me to see this on it's theatrical run (I was 7). I am sure there was a scene in which the Russians, before they run aground, sing "We all live in a Russian Submarine" to the tune to the Beatles "Yellow Submarine". I've seen the movie several times on TV in the years since then and never has that scene been part of the broadcast.

    Is it on the DVD?

    Any other old geezers like me see this move during its theatrical run? Does anybody else remember that scene?
    Or am I confusing this with a scene from another movie? Is this ringing a bell to anybody???
     
  15. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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  16. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    I've just been told that the subtitled scenes where the Russians are speaking Russian are not subtitled on this DVD, therefore ruining several of the jokes! I hope this isn't true! Can someone clarify this?

    Jeff
     
  17. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    OK, I just confirmed that those scenes with the Russians speaking are subtitled on the MGM laserdisc, but are not subtitled on the DVD. Strange...
    Jeff
     
  18. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    I just received this disk and have'nt watched it yet. What's up with Subtitles and MGM? Why do they have so many problems with them?
     
  19. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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  20. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Well how can we start the ball rolling in getting a corrected Disk. To me the lack of Subtitles on this disk makes this a defective disk. It affects the quality of the movies. Anyone else agree
     

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