Alan Arkin (1934-2023)

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.


  1. antaresrichard says

    “Emergency! Everybody to get from street -st-treet!”

    Sad news to learn.

  2. Mano Singham says


    Yes, Yossarian was a more significant role but I remember him more in this film which I plan to see again soon.. That may say more about my taste in films than about the quality of his roles.

  3. Silentbob says

    The commentariat are to be congratulated that so far (unlike with Glenda Jackson or Gina Lollobrigida) no one has felt the need to immediately post about how they would much rather talk about someone else.


  4. Silentbob says

    (Also, I feel the need to point out the difference is not unrelated to Arkin’s gender.)

  5. John Morales says

    Oh yeah. Good actor. Great, even.

    No argument from me, there.

    And 89 is not a bad innings.

  6. Silentbob says

    I see your “apophenia”, Morales, and raise you “fungible”.

    I love how you claim to hold in high esteem such feminists as Caine, Jadehawk, and Salty Current from yesteryear (the latter still being very much of the present, of course) and yet you absorbed nothing.

    The reason when Lollobrigida dies we hear, “what about Sophia Loren, she was better”, but when Arkin dies we don’t hear, “what about Walter Matthau, I liked him better” is that women are seen as fungible in a way men aren’t. Arkin is seen as an individual. Lollobrigida as an instantiation of the class “sexy Italian actresses”.

    Maybe back in the day when you were hanging out with feminists you claim to have admired you should have listened to what they were actually saying.

  7. John Morales says

    I love how you claim to hold in high esteem such feminists as Caine, Jadehawk, and Salty Current from yesteryear (the latter still being very much of the present, of course) and yet you absorbed nothing.

    Way off topic now, Silentbob. Kinda disrespectful to the featured actor.

    See, here’s the thing. The esteem derives entirely from my interaction with them as well as my appraisal of their other writings.
    It had nothing to do with their feminism. It was them, themselves.

    I am *not* a feminist. I am *not* an anythingist. I am me.

    You can try to categorise various expressed views, but be aware that there is no overarching ideology. I decide for myself what is the best opinion to have based on the circumstances as I perceive them and incorporate the dataset of observations and lived life experience and suchlike into my determinations.

    Had you paid any attention, you’ve seen I’ve saying exactly the same thing for nearly two decades in SB and here. I am not an ideologue.

    Had you incorporated that thing about which I have not wavered in forever, you’d have realised that their feminism was not a factor. That I brought it up was in the context of the conversation and how it affected the blog where I wrote that, not because it was a motivating factor in my estimation of them.

    FWIW: Caine, now dead, we had a rapprochement before the end.
    Jadehawk, still doesn’t like me (we were cordial at first).
    SC, well… frenemy, calls me a troll too, but actually sorta gets me.

    (Feel free to ask her)

    Thing is, there is not much temporal gap between your habitual condemnations of me, and as I noted over the years, for someone who would rather I did not post comments in your blog (um, a blog in which you yourself comment) you are sure eliciting a shitload of return comments from me.

    Not quite 1:1, but a lot more — not like you’re slacking.


    I see your “apophenia”, Morales, and raise you “fungible”.

    🙂 Mate, you’re so clueless!

  8. sonofrojblake says

    To be honest, Silentbob, I’m surprised you realise Walter Matthau and Alan Arkin are different people. In an earlier thread it was apparent you considered Marlon Brando and Dustin Hoffman to be… what’s the word? Fungible. As in, you didn’t realise they were different people. Watching you criticise other people’s film star opinions is hilarious.

  9. garnetstar says

    I loved The Russians are Coming, I saw it as a child and still remember how funny it is.

    And, Wait Until Dark has the single scariest moment in all of cinema history. Watch it to find out.

  10. Mano Singham says


    I know the scene you are talking about in Wait Until Dark!

    If a sign of how much you like a film is how many scenes from it you remember decades later and still find amusing as you recall them, then The Russians Are Coming definitely fits the bill.

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