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The Laughing Policeman (1973)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  23 January 1974 (Sweden)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 1,511 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 18 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.



(screenplay), (novel) (as Per Wahlhoo) , 2 more credits »
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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)


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 <>

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  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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


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 »


Sgt. Jake Martin SFPD: [about Niles' girlfriend] She left for lunch yesterday afternoon and hasn't been heard from since. What do you think?
Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD: I'm only allowed one think a day.
See more »


You'll Never Know
Music by Harry Warren
Played on the radio in the car
See more »

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User Reviews

The Laughing Policeman
8 February 2005 | by (Toronto) – See all my reviews

This sullen, violent police drama is as detailed an investigation as you will find on film. The opening scene of The Laughing Policeman is extremely tense and sets the tone for a Dirty-Harry-style flick that delivers one of Matthau's moodiest performances. Basically, a mass murder takes place on a San Francisco bus, and we find out that a policeman was one of the victims. He turns out to be Matthau's late partner. Bruce Dern is assigned to be his new partner, working with Matthau, a conflict of interest, to find out why this SFPD detective was on the bus in the first place. Their subsequent relationship is a play the standard, portrayed in the Laughing Policeman as "mute cop/bad cop". So, teams of gritty cops (a young Lou Gossett) meander through the roughest neighborhoods of San Francisco bullying pimps, pushers, hip drag queens and sidewalking street-wheelers in an attempt uncover what turns out to be a very complex underworld fraternity. The purpose (seeing as this plays as a Matthau character study), to quell Matthau's melancholic contribution to this Dirty Harry spin-off. It is more violent and much more precise than Dirty Hary but not as entertaining. A must see, however, for all Matthau fans.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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