6.4/10
1,853
35 user 27 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.

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Writers:

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

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Larsen
...
Larrimore (as Lou Gossett)
...
Camerero
...
Steiner
...
Pappas
...
Kay
...
Bobby Mow
...
Monica
Shirley Ballard ...
Grace
William Hansen ...
Schwermer
Don Borisenko ...
Collins (as Jonas Wolfe)
...
Haygood
Louis Guss ...
Gus Niles
...
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:

Eight people know who the killer is - and they're all dead! 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  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,280,000 (estimated)
 »

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

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

When Larsen follows Henry Camerero into the back door of a gay bar, the sign outside it says "The Ramrod". However, when Camerero exits the bar through the front door a few minutes later, the sign above the door says "The Frolic Room". See more »

Quotes

Sgt. Jake Martin SFPD: Evans was working the Teresa thing on his own time. He's killed on the same bus with Gus Niles who's looking for a grease gun that happens to be the weapon used.
Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD: And then his girlfriend winds up dead on the floor with the needle... Jake, you realize what you just did? You do it to me all the time, now you heard what the man said upstairs.
Sgt. Jake Martin SFPD: I heard him, I was up there, he's a nice man, he shoots in the low 80s, but he plays too close to the vest.
Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD: Then what are you laying all that crap on ME FOR? ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Horror Business (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

You Make Me Feel So Young
(uncredited)
Music by Josef Myrow
Played on the radio in the car
See more »

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User Reviews

Unjustly obscure police depiction
5 November 2003 | by (Cincinnati, OH) – See all my reviews

For some reason, this crime drama is almost completely overlooked. Even though it has it's faults, it is mostly a terrific examination of a police investigation. (In fact, in Australia, it was titled "Investigation of a Murder" which is far more apt a title than what it is here.) Matthau plays a police detective whose partner has been gunned down in a mass murder aboard a city bus. He is paired with Dern to find out if there's a connection between the massacre and the policeman's presence on the bus. They form an uneasy alliance (due to their clashing personalities and styles of working) and attempt to solve the baffling case. Gossett makes a strong impression as a fellow detective, though his character sort of drifts out of the picture at some point. Crosby and Cassidy have small, early roles as women who were affected by the murders. What's brilliant about the film is the wondrous verisimilitude and almost complete authenticity of the settings and performances. Only occasionally, can someone be caught "acting". Most of the time, the camera acts in an almost documentary fashion, eavesdropping on the various events and conversations. This type of gritty, realistic, matter-of-fact film is simply not made anymore today. The comparatively simple bus massacre is more striking and vivid than any of the overdone action scenes that litter all of today's films. There's a stark quality to the production that fits it well. Where the film strays is in it's endless cop vignettes which don't always have anything to do with the plot and which distract from, rather than enhance, the story. It's as if the writers tried to include too much from the source novel and wound up muddying the waters of the primary story. This also makes the film hard to follow at times. What's priceless is the display of the unmistakably tacky clothes and furnishings of the 1970's. There are also amusing glimpses into the San Francisco gay bar scene with real patrons displaying their faces (sometimes made up in drag) before the camera. Matthau says little in the film, but holds the attention with his various personal demons and conflicts. He chews gum incessantly and listens to standards on his radio to keep his emotions in check. Dern, as a more lively sort, is a great counterpoint and holds his own nicely. The mystery winds up being not all that big a mystery at all, but there's still a decent payoff with a "French Connection-esquire" car chase through San Francisco.


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