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Customer Review

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eight People Know Who The Killer Is - And They're All Dead, October 15, 2005
This review is from: The Laughing Policeman (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!


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. Jake Martin( Walter Matthau) is obsessed with this case, and will not rest until he finds the answer. Enters (Bruce Dern)Insp. Leo Larsen, his new partner. This is Leo's break, up into the big time, but his partner doesn't talk much, and it drives him crazy.

Sgt. Jack Martin is "melancholy, bordering on depression, overwhelming him because he suspects he may have lost his partner as the result of the two-year-old case he failed to resolve." Thus "The Laughing Policeman" is a play on words. This case takes us into the underground of San Francisco in the 1970's. Fuzzy, high hair, hippies, bright suits and a tamer life than we know now. The investigation is "right on", and the clues and lack of clues bring them to many stops along the way. All of the clues are looked at carefully, and all of the leads followed up. The criminal elements are all interviewed. The loves and the outlaws are interplayed with junkies and the motorcycle mamas. These detectives are real and play the part, they are depressed and worried and sometimes hate their job. Sgt.Martin has been in this business for a long time, and the unsolved case of a few years ago has now come full tilt. There is the requisite car chase in San Francisco up the hills and around the sharp corners. Walter Matthau has stepped into his second detective role, and at times it seems as if he is reaching for this character. Bruce Dern plays his character with charm and determination. The scenery is magnificent and the city comes alive. This is the beginning of the detective series that we have seen so many times on TV. "The Streets Of San Francisco" it is not, but almost as good.. Recommended. Prisrob
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 7, 2009 9:00:32 AM PDT
I remember the book as being better than this movie. It was not changed for the better. The political reason for the murder is subdued in this film.
I'm no expert, but the so-called "grease gun" was a WW II .45 caliber submachine gun that resembled the grease guns used to lubricate motor trucks and cars.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2009 9:13:39 AM PDT
prisrob says:
thanks for the infiormation- will read the book!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2010 10:48:17 PM PDT
wjd says:
We still had grease guns in Nam in some units. And we were still using up the .45 cal ammo left over from the Big War.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2010 6:20:47 AM PDT
prisrob says:
wow, that is unbelievable.
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