6.4/10
2,464
41 user 32 critic

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.

Director:

Stuart Rosenberg

Writers:

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

Cast overview, first billed only:
Walter Matthau ... Jake Martin
Bruce Dern ... Larsen
Louis Gossett Jr. ... Larrimore (as Lou Gossett)
Albert Paulsen ... Camerero
Anthony Zerbe ... Steiner
Val Avery ... Pappas
Cathy Lee Crosby ... Kay
Mario Gallo ... Bobby Mow
Joanna Cassidy ... Monica
Shirley Ballard Shirley Ballard ... Grace
William Hansen ... Schwermer
Don Borisenko Don Borisenko ... Collins (as Jonas Wolfe)
Paul Koslo ... Haygood
Louis Guss Louis Guss ... Gus Niles
Frances Lee McCain ... Prostitute (as Lee McCain)
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Storyline

A San Francisco city bus, with eight passengers and the driver, pulls out of a downtown bus station and moves through the city stopping once for a new passenger. The passenger, unseen above the chest, walks to the back of the bus pulls the pieces of a sub-machine gun from a tote bag, assembles them, and massacres the eight passenger and the driver. The bus crashes and the killer walks away. Driving onto the scene are homicide detectives Jake Martin (Walter Matthau), Leo Larsen (Bruce Dern) and James Larrinore (Lou Gosset). As they search the bus they find one of the bodies is that of Dave Evans (Anthony Costello), Martin's police partner. It is the search for the murderer and the reason for Evans' presence on the bus that pairs detective Martin and Larsen together. With the help of Evan's girlfriend Kay Butler (Cathy Lee Crosby), they determine that Evans was following leads to close a murder case which Martin, sixteen years on the force, was unable to solve two years previous. Thed ... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The same distinctive green station wagon with wood paneling was used in multiple scenes as an "automobile extra", and appeared throughout the film in background shots. 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] How ...
[...]
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Connections

Edited into The Green Fog (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

 
An absorbing 70s crime drama.
5 May 2014 | by Hey_SwedenSee 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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 January 1974 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

The Laughing Policeman See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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