6.3/10
1,572
34 user 18 critic

The Laughing Policeman (1973)

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

Director:

Writers:

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

On Disc

at Amazon

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Outfit (1973)
Crime | Thriller | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

When the small criminal Macklin is released from prison, he learns that his brother was shot by two mob killers. He didn't know that the bank he robbed was owned by the syndicate. When he's... See full summary »

Director: John Flynn
Stars: Robert Duvall, Karen Black, Joe Don Baker
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A man, his wife, and their friend, stage a bloody bank robbery, unaware they are stealing money from the Mob.

Director: Don Siegel
Stars: Walter Matthau, Joe Don Baker, Felicia Farr
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In New York, armed men hijack a subway car and demand a ransom for the passengers. Even if it's paid, how could they get away?

Director: Joseph Sargent
Stars: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam
WUSA (1970)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

A radio station in the Deep South becomes the focal point of a right-wing conspiracy.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Stars: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Perkins
Prime Cut (1972)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A crooked Kansas City slaughterhouse owner has a "beef" with the Chicago crime syndicate over profits from their joint illegal operations.

Director: Michael Ritchie
Stars: Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman, Sissy Spacek
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An idealistic rookie cop joins the LAPD to make ends meet while finishing law school, and is indoctrinated by a seasoned veteran. As time goes on, he loses his ambitions and family as police work becomes his entire life.

Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: George C. Scott, Stacy Keach, Jane Alexander
Move (1970)
Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

A young playwright who writes porno novels to overcome a writer's block, lives the fantasies of one of his books, while trying to move with his wife from one apartment into a larger one.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Stars: Elliott Gould, Paula Prentiss, Geneviève Waïte
Roseanna (1967)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

A dead and unknown woman, is found in a canal. Police inspector Martin Beck becomes involved in the case. After several months the woman is identified. The police reconstruct the woman's last trip on the canal boat "Wilhelm Tham".

Director: Hans Abramson
Stars: Keve Hjelm, Hans Ernback, Tor Isedal
The Late Show (1977)
Comedy | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A grumpy semi-retired private investigator partners with a quirky female client to catch the people who murdered his partner.

Director: Robert Benton
Stars: Art Carney, Lily Tomlin, Bill Macy
Winter Kills (1979)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The Pickering Commission concluded that a lone gunman killed the US President in 1960, in Philadelphia, but 19 years later a dying man confesses to be one of the real hit-men who killed President Kegan, sparking an investigation.

Director: William Richert
Stars: Jeff Bridges, John Huston, Anthony Perkins
Black Sunday (1977)
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Black Sunday is the powerful story of a Black September terrorist group attempting to blow up a Goodyear blimp hovering over the Super Bowl stadium with 80,000 people and the president of the United States in attendance.

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Robert Shaw, Bruce Dern, Marthe Keller
Blue Collar (1978)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Three workers, Zeke (Richard Pryor), Jerry (Harvey Keitel) and Smokey (Yaphet Kotto), are working at a car plant and drinking their beers together. One night when they steal away from their... See full summary »

Director: Paul Schrader
Stars: Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, Yaphet Kotto
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD
...
Insp. James Larrimore SFPD (as Lou Gossett)
Albert Paulsen ...
Henry Camerero
...
Lt. Nat Styner (Steiner on End Credits) SFPD
...
Insp. John Pappas SFPD
...
Kay Butler
...
Bobby Mow, Snitch
...
Nurse Monica, Beth's Roomate
Shirley Ballard ...
Grace Martin
William Hansen ...
Mr. Schwermer, Bus Vicitm
Don Borisenko ...
Det. Mike Collins (as Jonas Wolfe)
...
Duane Haygood, Drug Pusher
Louis Guss ...
Gus Niles / Andrew Medford - Bus Victim
...
Prostitute (as Lee McCain)
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

The laughing policeman is never amused. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 January 1974 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

An Investigation of a Murder  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The same distinctive green station wagon with wood panels was used in multiple scenes as an "automobile extra" and appears throughout the film in background shots. See more »

Goofs

The SF Municipal "Mission 14" bus line route did not and does not run north of Market street to traverse down Clay street from Nob Hill through Chinatown. See more »

Quotes

Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD: [When a heroin dealer trades information for a reduced sentence] I hope you're not jerking us, Haygood. Cause if you are, by the time you come back, smack'll be legal. Know what I mean?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in My Erotic Fantasies (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Ain't We Got Fun
(uncredited)
Music by Richard A. Whiting
Lyrics by Ray Egan and Gus Kahn
Sung by the street performers
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Long-time San Franciscan looks at the city in this movie.
30 July 2001 | by (Bellingham, WA) – See all my reviews

I saw this movie today for the Xth time. As usual, I liked it a lot. So I looked this movie up on imdb.com, to see what they had to say, and was surprised at their Summary for this movie: `Dreary, Empty-Headed Crime Drama.'

I beg to differ. I have always loved this movie. It was released in 1973. It is a perfect picture of San Francisco in the mid-70's. I was there and I recognize everything in it--people, places, and attitudes. This is the pre-AIDS, pre-Yuppie, free-wheeling, getting-used-to-it San Francisco that I loved.

The director (Jack Sommersby) has taken the usual poetic license with the locations, so that the No. 14 Mission bus miraculously goes to Chinatown, and the Transamerica Pyramid is a good view from the Transbay Bus Terminal, but never mind. Any long-time San Franciscan will recognize the sights.

Further, and even better, this is a movie of subtleties--perhaps that is why the IMDB reviewer found it dreary. We are not hit in the face with expository material. The dialogue is not used to describe what can be shown. Early in the movie, the police are confronted with a bus of dead people. Getting on the bus, nobody says `It stinks in here.' Instead, one of the policemen says to the medical examiner, who is smoking a cigar, `Blow some of that smoke over here.' And, without comment, the ME does so. That is how we know it stinks in the bus.

As the policemen look closely at the dead people on the bus, they find that one of them is a policeman. It is, in fact, Matthau's partner. But they never say to each other (and therefore to us) that this victim is a policeman. They show it only in their reactions. Someone says, `My God! It's Hansen!' or words to that effect. `What is he doing on a bus?' and other dialogue let us know that this man is a policeman.

This is a happy change from the tedious obviousness of movies that are full of lines like, `You know, Jack, you are a happy-go-lucky person. Your face shows it.' Jack sits there like the lump he is, looking neither happy nor unhappy. We have to believe the speaker, because the acting isn't going to give us this information. A good director would eliminate this line, and get some happy-face acting from Jack.

It is good to see a movie directed by someone who thinks we are smart enough to get the point without being hit over the head with it. The advice usually given to beginning writers is also good for experienced directors: Don't tell us. Show us.

The laughing policeman is Bruce Dern--new to homicide investigations, and without subtleties. He laughs a lot. Matthau is the old-timer, who never laughs. He is also not a subtle person, but he is at least cautious. They are the beagle puppy and experienced retriever of the world of murder. They are oil and water, definitely not blending.

The plot is absurd, but it hardly matters. It is the chase. It is the location. It is the ambience (dreadful, overused word, but there it is; it is the right word) that counts in this movie.

Finding it on TV is hard these days. I found it recently on Black Starz TV. Fortunately for us all, Lou Gossett, Jr. is in it, so it will show up on channels catering to African Americans. Hunt for it. It's worth it.

IMDB.com uses the 10-star rating system. Following their lead, I give it 5 stars for plot, and 9 stars for faithful depiction of a time and place.


38 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Is that William H Macy? jhands-1
Sacheen Littlefeather? Erich-13
The Ramrod obtuse_angle
misplaced scene Flkysoh
Comparinig it to Life on Mars amcalabrese
Just a 6.2? SpacemanBob
Discuss The Laughing Policeman (1973) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?