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The Laughing Policeman (2005)

Walter Matthau , Bruce Dern , Stuart Rosenberg  |  R |  DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Walter Matthau, Bruce Dern, Louis Gossett Jr., Albert Paulsen, Anthony Zerbe
  • Directors: Stuart Rosenberg
  • Writers: Stuart Rosenberg, Maj Sjöwall, Per Wahlöö, Thomas Rickman
  • Producers: Stuart Rosenberg
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English, French, Spanish
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: February 1, 2005
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006HBZBK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,427 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Laughing Policeman" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

A san francsico detective and his new partner search for the man responsible for slaughtering the passengers on a city bus.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
By bdlion
Format:DVD
The Laughing Policeman is anything but funny, although it does contain some very funny lines (like the title of this review) and some humorous situations. However, the eponymous Laughing Policeman is a grim, mirthless Walter Matthau who is investigating the death of his detective partner along with seven other people in a bus massacre. The movie unfolds as a police procedural unlike any other since, with extensive examination paid to the smallest detail. This may sound boring, but it's not. Under the steady direction of Stuart Rosenberg, the proceedings are both compelling and suspenseful.

This movie is one of the most realistic at depicting real gritty police work, which usually does comprise hitting the pavement and trying to shake out information from the demimonde on the streets. Bruce Dern is outstanding as Matthau's new hothead partner, and Lou Gosset is another standout. Matthau of course steals the movie with his hang-dog expression, laconic delivery, and the occasional violent outburst. When delivered, Matthau's angry brutality is shocking and unexpected from this actor we normally associate with comedies.

The 1970's saw the film violence floodgate open, thanks to Bonnie and Clyde, The Wild Bunch, Dirty Harry, and Straw Dogs. As a product of the new visceral '70's, this movie is very graphic and very violent, especially the opening scene. There is also some strong language, which surprised me for an early '70's movie, as profanity would become more mainstream in mid-to-late '70's flicks.

With the above caveat, by all means see this movie. It is a fine example of the police procedural, a great performance by Walter Matthau, a slice of 1970's urban graphic violence and language, and an interesting flashback to a pessimistic era not unlike our current time. As time passes, it's striking to note how little has really changed.

P.S.: This movie has no extras whatsoever, and is priced accordingly, making it very affordable.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Matthau and Dern at their best April 9, 2005
Format:DVD
There is absolutely nothing funny about "The Laughing Policeman", director Stuart Rosenberg's ultra-serious, ultra-violent police procedural/character study from 1974. Actually, that it's a hard-boiled police thriller is apparent five minutes in, when a lone gunman machine guns an entire city bus full of passengers to death and disappears into thin air. Enter foul-tempered homicide detective Lt. Jake Martin (Walter Matthau), whose anger intensifies when he realizes one of the victims is his off-duty partner. He's in even less of a good mood when he's paired with affable, sympathetic new partner Leo Larsen (Bruce Dern, in a rare "straight" role). The rest of the film follows their search for the killer, which leads them into some pretty unsavory places in and around San Francisco.

"The Laughing Policeman" isn't so much a police thriller as a procedural, and a very good one at that. There is very little action, and most of the tension comes from Martin and Larsen's prickly relationship. And gay viewers may be offended by where the crime ends up, as the San Francisco gay scene is shown in an extremely negative light. That said, there's something special to be found in any movie that relies on sheer acting from its lead and supporting cast, which includes Lou Gossett and Anthony Zerbe as fellow cops and Cathy Lee Crosby and Joanna Cassidy as two women who may have clues to whodunnit. And the last fifteen minutes are absolutely hair-raisingly suspenseful.

I'll say no more about this excellent thriller except to say that the DVD is presented in an excellent color transfer and in the proper 1:85:1 aspect ratio format, unlike the unfortunately botched release of Matthau's other stellar 1974 crime thriller "Charley Varrick", which is dumped onto DVD in a fullscreen transfer.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Sgt. Jake Martin is speaking to his new partner, Insp. Leo Larsen; trying to convince him how important this investigation is. Inspector Leo Larsen is leery:

"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? WHY DON'T YOU STOP IT FOR ONCE? That's YOUR personal hang-up, it does NOT happen to be mine!

Sgt. Jake Martin SFPD: Can't you see it?

Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD: I see one thing, I see why you're such a good cop, and one reason only, because you're so screwed up otherwise. You're beyond human belief, you understand that? You've got nothing else, no personal life, nothing!

Sgt. Jake Martin SFPD: All I'm asking you to do is help me tail a guy for a few days, its routine!

Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD: IT IS NOT ROUTINE JAKE, GODDAMMIT, IF THE BOSS SAYS FORGET IT!"

Nine people in San Francisco get on a bus, one leaves alive. The

living one takes with him a "greaser", some sort of sub-machine gun that he used to kill the other eight. Why? What is this all about? That is what Sgt. Martin wants to know. One of the eight is his dead partner, who was supposed to be on vacation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great "70s" Flick
A terrific little 70s flick that has been a favorite of mine since seeing it in the theater back then! Read more
Published 1 month ago by J.P. Christian (Paullip) Fox Lake, IL
5.0 out of 5 stars A REAL GEM
A fine drama...unremittingly well done...good acting good sets good story good city. Shamefully unknown procedural caper that takes the cake
Published 5 months ago by 4anubisswift
5.0 out of 5 stars everything was fine
everything was fineeverything was fine on time no damage could reccomend for any oneeverything was fine on time no damage could reccomend for any one
Published 6 months ago by Andrew J Talley
1.0 out of 5 stars DVD didn't work
When I went to play the move we got an error message stating unable to play in your region. Thanks.
Published 9 months ago by Val Moorhead
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Police Procedural
Gritty, ambiguous, well acted police procedural with a complicated plot from the seventies that holds up well with good San Francisco locations with a warning that it has a... Read more
Published 10 months ago by James Sproull
2.0 out of 5 stars The Gum Chewing Policeman
Walter Mathau as the boring incomprehensible Gum Chewing Policeman. Plot is confusing, acting over bored ( sic) . Only redeeming quality is the 70's era San Francisco streets. Read more
Published 10 months ago by William
3.0 out of 5 stars San Francisco-based police drama offers chilling opening but little...
A native Bay Area resident, I love to watch movies filmed in 1970's San Francisco. The Laughing Policeman offers a chilling premise of eight passengers gunned down including one... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Kenneth M. Pizzi
2.0 out of 5 stars Dated but interesting
as real fan of The Swedish detective Beck- thought I would try to see the American version. though I'm a real Walter Matthau fan- even him in the part it just didn't cut it. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Tu Me Plais
4.0 out of 5 stars You can enjoy this film more than once
Walter Matthau is always worth watching. In this film, he is all serious business in an excellent dramatic performance. Read more
Published 17 months ago by James W. Durney
3.0 out of 5 stars A Cut above some Films
The main strength is the acting and the interaction between the two leads - Matthau and Dern. Unfortunately the actions of the main criminal are a bit far-fetched, i.e. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Peter Blake
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