The Russians Are Coming!

Film cast in car, facing camera
Jonathan Winters, Brian Keith, and the Gloucester Island Resistance. (Gift of Bruce Levene)

May 25, 1966 – The comedy movie, “The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!” – filmed almost entirely on location along the Mendocino Coast – was released. The Fort Bragg Advocate described the film, “Fort Bragg and the adjoining coastline will be the setting for the accidental grounding of a Russian submarine because its skipper wanted to get a closer look at the United States. The sub gets hung up on a sandbar and the plot unfolds as the crew determines ways of getting away at the same time Americans are mistaking the accident as an invasion.”

Set on the fictional Gloucester Island in Massachusetts during the Cold War, scenes were shot in Mendocino, Fort Bragg, Noyo, Cleone, and Westport. The Beacon reported, “Mendocino is being used for nearly all of the village shots, as the home and business houses here very closely resemble those of the Nantucket coastal area.” The submarine scenes were filmed at Noyo.

Actor facing horse in field
Ben Blue with horse, Mendocino. (Gift of Bruce Levene)

The cast included Carl Reiner, Alan Arkin, Eva Marie Saint, Jonathan Winters, Brian Keith, and Ben Blue. Heeser Drive was used extensively for the filming of Ben Blue’s scenes, which ran throughout the entire movie. He portrayed a modern day Paul Revere, trying to get on a horse to warn the populace of the invasion with cries of “The Russians are Coming!”

Many local people were used in the film, “Mrs. Wanda McFarland, Jim O’Donnell, William Robinson, Ches Sandell, Tom Glynn, Mrs. Addie Reis, Fred Rimbach, Joe Gomes, Frank Brown, John Bovyer, Carl Sauer, Ike Jackson, Tony Lema and four daughters.”

The cast and crew thoroughly enjoyed filming on the Mendocino Coast. Norman Jewison, producer-director of the film, said, “I can truthfully say it is the first location I have hated to leave.”

Mendocino and the Movies: Hollywood and TV Motion Pictures Filmed on the Mendocino Coast” by Bruce Levene. More than 50 films from 1904 to 2001 used local scenery and local actors. $20.