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The Laughing Policeman (1973)

6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 1,387 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 17 critic

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.

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(screenplay), (based on the novel "Den skrattande polisen" by), 2 more credits »
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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
Mario Gallo ...
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)
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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:

This movie is so real it makes every other movie in this town look like a movie. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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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  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Larsen (Bruce Dern) and Martin (Walter Matthau) are on the way to pick up explosives from the Hells Angels, the tune "Big Noise From Winnetka" plays in the background. Dern went to New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD: [after spending the day monitoring Henry Camarero] We got a man farting in silk and playing all day.
Sgt. Jake Martin SFPD: I talked to Frank at the lab, and he got an FBI report on Gus Niles' prints from his service record.
Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD: [mildly surprised] Uh, are you just making conversation now?
Sgt. Jake Martin SFPD: Gus Niles used to be Andrew Medford, and he was in business with Camarero for awhile. You wanna take a guess who was Camarero's alibi at the Teresa inquest?
Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD: [realizing Jake's hunch about Camarero as the bus killer has substance behind it] ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mikey and Nicky (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

I Had the Craziest Dream
(uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played on the radio in the car
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An absorbing 70s crime drama.
5 May 2014 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Admittedly, the pace of "The Laughing Policeman" is pretty slow, but this is a well plotted murder mystery that gets a lot of juice from the marvelous chemistry between investigating detectives Walter Matthau (as Jake Martin) and Bruce Dern (as Leo Larsen). The supporting cast is likewise excellent and full of familiar faces. Producer / director / uncredited screenwriter Stuart Rosenberg makes great use of San Francisco locations, and keeps viewers intrigued with the police procedural aspect to the tale. The violence is pretty potent, and there's a certain amusement in seeing detectives Martin and Larsen work their way through the seedier environments of SF.

As the movie opens, a cop named Evans (Anthony Costello) follows a man named Niles (Louis Guss) onto a city bus; soon, a character known to Niles gets on board and pumps several passengers full of holes, including Evans and Niles. Martin, who happened to be Evans' partner, gets newly paired up with Larsen to work the case as their superior (Anthony Zerbe) demands results.

What's a joy here is seeing this cast at work. Matthau and Dern contrast nicely; what we come to know about Martin is that despite having a home and family, he's pretty much devoted to his job. Louis Gossett Jr. is fun as one of their colleagues; also making appearances are Val Avery, Cathy Lee Crosby, Mario Gallo, Joanna Cassidy, Paul Koslo, Frances Lee McCain, Clifton James, Gregory Sierra, Warren Finnerty, Matt Clark, and Wayne Grace. Albert Paulsen ("The Manchurian Candidate") has the most interesting role seeing that he actually has next to nothing in the way of dialogue.

The movie may get a little repetitive as it comes full circle at the end, but taking everything into consideration it's a good and solid example of its genre.

Based on the novel "Den Skrattande Polisen" by authors Per Wahloo & Maj Sjowall.

Seven out of 10.


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