They All Laughed (1981) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A mad cap private-eye caper about a team of detectives who are following, and are being followed by, a group of beautiful women.

  • New York's Odyssey Detective Agency is hired by two different clients to follow two women suspected of infidelity. Ladies' man John Russo trails Angela Niotes, the elegant wife of a wealthy Italian industrialist, while Charles Rutledge and Arthur Brodsky follow Dolores Martin, the beautiful young wife of a jealous husband. Their respective cases are complicated when John falls for Angela, and Charles falls for Dolores.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Deborah Wilson (Patti Hansen), a New York City taxi driver, drops Mr. Leon Leondopolous (George Morfogen), the owner of the Odyssey Detective Agency, at a heliport where he meets his employee, John Russo (Ben Gazzara). They await the arrival of their client, Mr. Niotes, who wants the detectives to shadow his wife, Angela (Audrey Hepburn), while he is away on business.

    As the Niotes and their son drive into the city, John Russo gets into Deborah's cab and follows. He flirts with Deborah and insists on calling her "Sam," because she does not look like a name like 'Deborah'. He has "Sam" drop him near his daughters' home and introduces her to Stefania and Georgina before walking the girls to school.

    Later, John watches the Niotes at dinner while fellow Odyssey detectives Charles Rutledge (John Ritter) and Arthur Brodsky (Blaine Novak) trail Dolores Martin (Dorothy Stratten), another client's young wife, to the Algonquin Hotel where she meets her boyfriend, Jose (Sean Ferrer). The detectives follow the couple as they arrive at their side-by-side brownstones, and go into their respective homes. Charles and Arthur share a marijuana cigarette as they stand watch outside, then Arthur leaves. However, Charles is smitten with Dolores and continues his surveillance.

    Meanwhile, John Russo stops at a local nightclub where one of his girlfriends, country singer Christy Miller (Colleen Camp), performs. She is angry that he has not visited recently, but their discussion is interrupted by Arthur, who claims John is needed on a case. Later, John sees Sam driving her cab and takes her to dinner.

    Elsewhere, Arthur and Charles follow Dolores to a rollerskating rink. As the klutzy Charles attempts to meet Dolores on the skating floor, Arthur flirts with her three girl friends to obtain information. When Charles falls, Dolores helps him to his feet. Charles "reads" her palm, claiming she will have a short marriage and a bad romance, which will be followed by a lasting love. When Jose arrives, Dolores asks Charles for his telephone number before leaving. Arthur and Charles follow the couple to the brownstones and Arthur warns that it will be difficult to continue following Dolores now that she has met Charles.

    The next morning at the detective agency, Leondopolous wants a report on the Martin case, but Charles claims he has not yet typed it. Christy Miller arrives with the belongings John left in her apartment, then kisses Charles and asks him for a ride home. Charles is hesitant, but John and Arthur suggest Christy would be a good "beard" if Charles sees Dolores.

    Charles maneuvers their travels near Dolores's health club, and spots Dolores and Jose going into a store. Charles steers Christy into the shop, and he holds her dog, Harold, while she tries on clothes. Dolores also has a dog, and Charles sends Harold in their direction. When Christy walks over to reclaim her pet, Dolores recognizes the up and coming singer, and Christy invites everyone to her Friday evening show. Christy takes Charles to her apartment for a drink and insists on giving him a massage, but they are interrupted by a call from Jose about meeting at the nightclub that evening.

    After Mr. Niotes leaves on his business trip, John and Arthur follow Angela and her son, Michael, to a video game arcade and introduce themselves. Arthur distracts Michael while John invites Angela to lunch, admitting he is a detective hired by her husband. She declines the invitation, but John promises to follow her until she changes her mind. Later, John, his daughters, and Arthur arrive at the restaurant where Angela and Michael are dining. After dinner, Arthur takes the children rollerskating while John and Angela walk to his apartment. John has allowed Sam to use his apartment while her father has been ill, and the taxi driver is leaving a note of thanks as John and Angela arrive. After Sam leaves, John and Angela kiss.

    Charles, Christy, Jose and Dolores arrive at the nightclub. Christy dances with Charles, but she likes Jose and realizes Charles likes Dolores, so the singer forcefully changes partners and romances Jose. Charles takes Dolores home and watches her go inside, then observes from a hiding place across the street as Dolores argues with her husband. Later, she takes her dog for a walk and discovers Charles outside. He admits he could not leave and they kiss, but she rushes back inside.

    Charles sleeps on a bench across the street and awakens in the morning as Dolores and Jose drag her suitcase to a nearby cab. Charles follows them to the courthouse, but cannot find them inside. Christy observes Charles from the second floor before joining Dolores and Jose in a courtroom.

    At her hotel, Angela receives a note from her husband that he is returning early and they will leave New York City the next day. Angela and Michael meet Ben outside his daughters' school. Michael joins the girls while Angela and John head to his office. They see Sam outside the building and Angela waits with her while John goes inside.

    Leondopolous informs his employees that Dolores left her husband, and Charles admits he lost Dolores at city hall. Leondopolous also announces that Mr. Niotes is returning early and the case is finished. Christy arrives with fliers for her show, and as they leave, she hands fliers to Angela and Sam. The taxi driver recognizes Christy as a famous singer and offers her a ride. Charles suspects Christy knows Dolores's whereabouts so he and Arthur follow, but Sam quickly loses her pursuers. John and Angela return to his apartment and make love, although she does not reveal she is leaving town early.

    Charles, Arthur, and Sam attend Christy's performance that evening. Charles is disheartened until Dolores unexpectedly arrives. Charles proposes and she agrees to marry him after her divorce. Onstage, Christy pulls Jose into the spotlight and announces they are engaged.

    At their hotel, Angela and Michael say goodbye to John and Arthur. The next morning, John joins Leondopolous at the heliport to watch the family leave. As Leondopolous completes his business with Mr. Niotes, John and Angela admit their mutual love. Angela flies away, but John discovers she asked Sam to look after him.

    At the courthouse, Jose and Christy get married, with Charles and Dolores in attendance.

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