From the early-70's zenith of crime and police-centered films, 'The Laughing Policeman' deserves credit, respect and recognition as a fine, gritty, accurate work that shows the way real officers interact and go through their work-days and solve crimes. Walter Matthau, mostly known for his astute comedic touch, is excellent, as is Bruce Dern, who's promoted to an uneasy partnership with Matthau, when the latter's partner, who was on vacation yet took an unsolved case home with him, is at the wrong place at the wrong time, part of a brutal mass murder on board a bus. The well-directed script shows how alienated a good policeman is from his family, how hated he is by most of the community, and the…
Nice review, Jeff! The 70s included some fine Matthau performances. I'm especially fond of THE TAKING PELHAM1-2-3 and CHARLEY VARRICK. (I haven't seen THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN in years!)
The fourth book in the classic Martin Beck detective series from the 1960s - the novels that shaped the future of Scandinavian crime writing. Hugely acclaimed, the Martin Beck series were the original Scandinavian crime novels and have inspired the writings of Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo. Written in the 1960s, 10 books completed in 10 years, they are the work of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo - a husband and wife team from Sweden. They follow the fortunes of the detective Martin Beck, whose enigmatic, taciturn character has inspired countless other policemen in crime fiction; without his creation Ian Rankin's John Rebus or Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander may never have been conceived. The novels can be read separately, but are best read in chronological order, so the reader can follow the characters' development and get drawn into the series as a whole. On a cold and rainy Stockholm night, nine bus riders are gunned down by an unknown assassin. The press, anxious for an explanation for the seemingly random crime, quickly dubs him a madman. But Martin Beck of the Homicide Squad suspects otherwise: this apparently motiveless killer has managed to target one of Beck's best detectives - and he, surely, would not have been riding that lethal bus without a reason. With its wonderfully observed lawmen, its brilliantly rendered felons and their murky Stockholm underworld, and its deftly engineered plot, 'The Laughing Policeman' has long been recognised as a classic of the police procedural.
One of the greats of crime cinema from the great decade for the genre, director Stuart Rosenberg puts on a masterclass of scene construction from the opening moments, more often than not each establishing shot looking like it could be an Edward Hopper painting, he builds his world with a lot more than the generic wide, single, reverse, close up toolbox that is often displayed, everything cut means something or adds something to the scene whether that be tension or humour or despair or just a simple observation of life. Because that really is the name of the game in The Laughing Policeman, the plot drives the movie but it is only background to the observation of life in America…
The Laughing Policeman: A Martin Beck Police Mystery (4)
Maj Sjowall,Per Wahloo
Limited preview - 2010