The veteran actor has died at the age of 89.
Over his long career, Arkin played a huge variety of roles and was always enjoyable to watch. I have seen him in a huge number of films but particularly liked his deadpan, understated performances in comedies such as Catch-22 and The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. But also he played a menacing, convincing villain opposite Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark.
Here is a clip from The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966), released during the Cold War about a Russian submarine that runs aground off the coast of a small US town due to the incompetence of its captain. Here is a synopsis.
When a sightseeing Soviet commander runs his submarine aground off the New England coast, the crew’s attempts to find a boat to dislodge them almost start WWIII! Alan Arkin leads an all-star cast–including Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, Brian Keith and Jonathan Winters–in this riotous, uproarious [and] side-splitting (Cue) comedy! Russian Lt. Rozanov (Arkin) and his crew hit the beaches of Massachusetts unaware of the panic they’re about to start. Despite the Russians’ harmless intentions, the folks in town think a full-scale Soviet invasion has been launched! What’s worse, their police chief (Keith) has left his hysterical assistant (Winters) in charge and the one man who knows the truth (Reiner) is only stirring up more chaos!
The film is an endearing comedy about how the absurdity of nationalistic antagonisms can be countered by experiencing the commonality of human interactions. It is the kind of film that I can watch again.