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Laughing Policeman [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Walter Matthau , Bruce Dern , Stuart Rosenberg    DVD
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

Note: you may purchase only one copy of this product. New Region 1 DVDs are dispatched from the USA or Canada and you may be required to pay import duties and taxes on them (click here for details). Please expect a delivery time of 5-7 days.

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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, Colour, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English, French, Spanish
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: R (Restricted) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Fox Searchlight
  • DVD Release Date: 1 Feb 2005
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006HBZBK
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,749 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Two men get on a bus in early morning San Francisco. It's still dark out. One seems to be following the other, and the first man appears to be aware of it but isn't concerned. There are five other passengers, among them an old man, a young woman going to work, a Chinese-American kid. The bus picks up another passenger. This man goes to the back of the bus, and while he's seated he quietly reaches into a bag and screws on a barrel to a machine gun. Then he stands and murders everyone on the bus. The bus crashes and he walks away. This is a taut, terrific opening to a police procedural that I wish I liked more than I do.

It turns out that the man on the bus who had been following the other is a policeman. Among the cops called to the scene is Jake Martin (Walter Matthau), who was the guy's partner. Martin is shocked at the discovery. He has no idea what his partner had been doing. With a massacre on his hands, the lieutenant in charge (Anthony Zerbe) tells Leo Larsen (Bruce Dern) to work with Jake. He makes it clear he wants all stops out to find the killer. What follows is a meticulous look at dogged police work, chasing down leads, searching for connections, trying to make sense of what appears to be a senseless act. Some of those killed had crime sheets or were drug users, and this sends Martin and Larsen into San Francisco's underbelly. Finally Martin realizes that there might be a connection to a two-year-old case that he had talked to his former partner about, a connection that may have triggered his partner's interest. If this turns out to be true, then Martin and Leo have a lead to a killer.

What is so good about this movie is, among other things, the set up. The machine gun shooting is a startling opening. It raises all kinds of questions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity that just doesn't translate 21 Nov 2013
By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Between 1965-75, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo's Martin Beck novels were a publishing sensation, sowing the seeds of the Nordic noir movement and inspiring local TV series and an ultimately misbegotten American big screen adaptation of the fourth novel in the series, The Laughing Policeman (later changed to An Investigation of Murder in the belief that US audiences stayed away because they thought with Walther Matthau in the lead it was a comedy). Unfortunately in relocating the series from Stockholm to San Francisco much of the distinctive flavour of the original is lost as the very different approaches to police work resulted in Beck being turned into another clichéd lone wolf cop (a miscast Matthau) butting heads with his partner (Bruce Dern) and breaking the rules to goad the suspect into giving himself way. It's a shame, because the first half has some of the spirit of the police procedurals that inspired it as the cops wearily work their way through the aftermath of a mass shooting on a bus that claimed one of their own officers. Yet after the semi-documentary approach of the first hour it gives way to all the usual clichés as suspects are rousted and tip-offs lead to blind alleys, complete with a fairly decently staged shootout and a rather half-hearted car chase to break up all the talk.

A couple of the changes from the novel make sense, but sadly most seem designed to make the film increasingly more routine and predictable, particularly in the unconvincingly contrived finale that dispenses with the laborious detective work and the role of chance, coincidence and teamwork of the novel to give the film a bigger ending.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
In the 1960s the writing team of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo wrote police procedural mysteries based on the cops of the Stockholm PD--a sort of Swedish 87th Precinct series without a vestige of wit or humor, hence the ironic title. Oh, very gloomily Scandinavian! The books were immensely successful in Europe and even managed the almost unprecedented feat of jumping the Atlantic to become best sellers in America. "The Laughing Policeman" was probably the best-known book of the lot. It is still very much in print and well worth reading today.

Inevitably the series was picked up on option by an American film studio. In 1973, "The Laughing Policeman" was filmed ... with a few changes.

Ingmar Bergman may have been widely admired but he was not box office. No US studio was going to risk big bucks on unknown Swedish actors, nossiree. Walter Matthau was hired to play the lead detective and a young Bruce Dern to play his sidekick. (It should be remembered that in those days Matthau was still an all-around actor, and a good one; his talent had not yet disappeared beneath his comic persona.) If no Swedish actors, than certainly not Stockholm, a town that was presumably gloomy and dull. (Who knew? Who cared?) San Francisco was neither. That was the place!

The movie starts out with a wordless sequence which begins at what was then called the Eastbay Terminal located at about First and Mission Streets. A miscellaneous lot of people board a small diesel bus decked out in the Municipal Railway's old green and cream color scheme that clearly bears the route designation "14 MISSION." The bus wends its way through the streets of San Francisco until one passenger uses an automatic assault rifle, called a "grease gun" in the script, to murder everybody else on the bus.
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