6.4/10
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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)
Albert Paulsen ...
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)
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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:

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

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 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 »

Quotes

Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD: [after Camerero leaves a gay bar with another man] I think he's a fag. Things are looser now. I guess a couple years ago, that was enough to ruin you.
Sgt. Jake Martin SFPD: Well, that's what I've been saying.
Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD: Yeah, that's probably where I heard it. You think that Theresa found out about him and then didn't know which way to turn?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Horror Business (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Ain't We Got Fun
(uncredited)
Music by Richard A. Whiting
Lyrics by Ray Egan and Gus Kahn
Sung by the street performers
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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