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The Laughing Policeman (1973)

In San Francisco, California, one victim in a mass murder is a police detective. His partner and a new partner investigate in the city's seamy side.



(screenplay), (novel) (as Per Wahlhoo) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Larrimore (as Lou Gossett)
Bobby Mow
Shirley Ballard ...
William Hansen ...
Don Borisenko ...
Collins (as Jonas Wolfe)
Louis Guss ...
Gus Niles
Prostitute (as Lee McCain)


A policeman is among the victims when the passengers of a late-night bus are machine-gunned. With only one semi- conscious survivor and no other witnesses, the detectives try to learn from the identities of the dead why this happened and who the killer could be. Climax includes excellent chase. Written by David Carroll <davidc@atom.ansto.gov.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Race against time and a killer in See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 January 1974 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

An Investigation of a Murder  »


Box Office


$2,280,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The novel, on which the film was based, was set in Stockholm, Sweden. See more »


The actual gun used in the film is a Smith & Wesson M76 9mm machine gun without the barrel shroud and not an M3 .45 caliber "Grease Gun" made by GM Guide Lamp Division for WWII use. The omission of the barrel shroud gives the appearance of an M3. If one sticks to the story line, the M3 magazine held 30 rounds .45 ACP and cycled around 450 rpm. This is sufficient to inflict the damage and wounds shown in the film. See more »


Steiner: With my luck this guy'll turn out to be a god damn war hero.
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Referenced in Horror Business (2005) See more »


You'll Never Know
Music by Harry Warren
Played on the radio in the car
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User Reviews

From the golden age of urban American film
23 June 2002 | by See all my reviews

From a period before marketing departments and focus groups took over the movie industry and began pumping out formulaic happy-ended regurgitated baby food, The Laughing Policeman offers gritty urban drama, acted by the great character actors of the day, actors that filled out such classics as The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon...

It's shortcomings are there, to be sure, but as a stylistic gem - as a sample of the type of movies they just don't or can't make anymore, it's worth watching. Matthau is as angry and as serious as you've ever seen him - a performance sterner that even the MTA traffic official in The Taking of Pelham 123.

There is no formula here - no overbearing Sargent hanging over the detectives, no goofing off in the office downtown to lighten things up. No romantic interest or hot sex scene crammed in between bullets.This is reality, harsh and complicated - if you can handle it, that is.

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