The Laughing Policeman (1973) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Laughing Policeman1973

The Laughing Policeman (1973)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Laughing Policeman Photos

Movie Info

Cops Walter Matthau and Bruce Dern stalk a serial killer with a lust for bus riders in this thriller also called An Investigation of Murder.


Walter Matthau
as Sgt. Jake Martin
Bruce Dern
as Insp. Leo Larsen
Louis Gossett Jr.
as James Larrimore
Albert Paulsen
as Henry Camerero
Anthony Zerbe
as Lt. Steiner
Val Avery
as Pappas
Cathy Lee Crosby
as Kay Butler
Mario Gallo
as Bobby Mow
Shirley Ballard
as Grace Martin
William Hansen
as Schwermer
Jonas Wolfe
as Collins
Paul Koslo
as Havgood
Louis Guss
as Gus Niles
Matt Clark
as Coroner
Lavelle Roby
as Receptionist
Joseph E. Bernard
as Avakian's Brother
Leigh French
as Porno Cashier
Jim Clawin
as Fowler
Anthony Costello
as Dave Evans
Wayne Grace
as Brennan
Dave Belrose
as Ralph Martin
Dawn Frame
as Debbie Martin
Ellen Nance
as Receptionist
Lavelle Robey
as Receptionist
Hobart Nelson
as Jail Guard
Gus Bruneman
as Squad Captain
View All

Critic Reviews for The Laughing Policeman

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (5)

It loses a great deal in the translation from Stockholm to San Francisco's Dirty Harry country. Gloomy authenticity, for one thing; pace and a genuine sense of puzzlement, for others.

October 27, 2015 | Full Review…

After an extremely overdone prolog of violent mass murder on a bus, The Laughing Policeman becomes a handsomely made manhunt actioner.

July 22, 2008 | Full Review…

By the end, complete with car chase and split-second shooting, the film has become indistinguishable from all those movies it's trying so hard to disown.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Though an essentially familiar amalgam of murder, manhunt and dogged police work in that scenic city, this Policeman stands a good deal taller than the norm because of the expert guidance of Stuart Rosenberg

May 9, 2005 | Full Review…

The Laughing Policeman is an awfully good police movie: taut, off-key, filled with laconic performances. It provides the special delight we get from gradually unraveling a complicated case.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

[The Laughing Policeman is] one of the most outrageous, humorless exposes on violence and homosexuality ever produced. Not to mention the fact that it was so poorly edited one could not understand the last third of the picture.

April 27, 2020 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Laughing Policeman

Stuart Rosenberg's solid, tense crime drama based on a Swedish award winning novel by Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall, the story is transplanted from Stockholm to San Francisco. The late great Walter Matthau delivers one of his most accomplished, detailed performances, as a tough police lieutenant investigating a grisly massacre on board a city bus by a madman, who opened up with a machine gun and murdered eight people. He discovers that his former partner, a detective is one of the victims, Matthau uncovers unsavory things about his ex-partner, and that many of the victims had shady lives, which shrouds the killer's identity even more. But Matthau and his current partner, played superbly by Bruce Dern, are running out of time because the killer is getting ready to attack another city bus. Astute direction by Stuart Rosenberg, fine supporting performances by Louis Gossett Jr, Albert Paulsen, Anthony Zerbe, Anthony Costello, Val Avery, Joanna Cassidy, and Cathy Lee Crosby. Good suspense and plot twists, outstanding cinematography by David M. Walsh. A gritty period piece, and accurate 70's police procedural from the golden age of urban American films. Highly Recommended.

Danny Rovira
Danny Rovira

Super Reviewer

Whatever you're reaching for had better be a sandwich, 'cause you're gonna have to eat it.

Matthau doesn't get to play many serious roles compared to his body of work in lighter fare. This is one of his best dramatic attempts. Despite the title, not only does he not laugh in this, he never even cracks a single smile.

This is a nice murder mystery. The whole supporting cast is excellent, particulary Lou Gossett, Jr. When he delivers the line quoted above, you can feel in your bones that he means it :)

Lanning : )
Lanning : )

Super Reviewer

The Laughing Policeman Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features