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The Laughing Policeman [Blu-ray]
(Stuart Rosenberg, 1973)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 28,019,039,001 bytes
Feature Size: 23,756,353,536 bytes
Video Bitrate: 24.94 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: October 18th, 2016
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1558 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1558 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps
• Audio Commentary by Lee Pfeiffer, Publisher of Cinema Retro Magazine with Film Historians Eddy Friedfeld and Paul Scrabo
• Interview with Paul Koslo (8:28)
• Animated Montage of Images (2:01)
• Trailers (The Laughing Policeman - 3:35, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three - 2:32, Report to the Commissioner - 2:21, Busting - 2:45, Fuzz - 2:59)
Description:Eight people know who the killer is... and they re all dead! It's tough beat for San Francisco police lieutenant Jake Martin (Walter Matthau, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three) when he has to investigate a city bus massacre in which a madman opened machine gunfire on eight people. It's even worse when Martin discovers his former partner is one of the victims. But as he investigates the grisly murders, Martin not only discovers unsavory things about his partner, but he finds that many of the victims had shady lives, which shrouds the killer's identity even more. Veteran Hollywood filmmaker Stuart Rosenberg (Cool Hand Luke) directed this action-packed thriller with an amazing cast that includes Bruce Dern (Coming Home), Louis Gossett Jr. (Finders Keepers), Cathy Lee Crosby (Wonder Woman), Anthony Zerbe (They Call Me Mister Tibbs!), Joanna Cassidy (The Package) Val Avery (The Wanderers), Mario Gallo (Revenge of the Ninja) and Paul Koslo (Mr. Majestyk).
Stuart Rosenberg's taut police thriller, based on the Martin Beck novel by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahlöö, concerns a serial killer who is targeting bus riders. When a bus full of innocent commuters are killed on a San Francisco street, Jake Martin (Walter Matthau) is assigned to track down the killer. Jake has a personal stake in the killings because his partner was one of the victims. Teamed up with new partner Leo Larsen (Bruce Dern), Jake investigates the back alleys of San Francisco to find the serial killer. The trail leads to a tour of the underbelly of the city's gay subculture.
As police clinically and methodically follow up a multiple killing on a San Francisco bus, this adaptation of the Sjöwall/Wahlöö novel looks as if it's setting the record straight on recent cop films. But in its desire to make no concessions to Dirty Harry and its ilk, it destroys any potential interest with almost wilful perversity. Matthau's disgruntled cop, alienated from family and superiors, emerges as a tedious protagonist, relating to nothing, continually bored and boring. The plot hops around in an unengaging manner, while the excursions into the underworld (pimps, dopers, transvestites, Angels, etc) are patchily directed. Ironically, 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.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The single-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of The Laughing Policeman looks fairly heavy and flat - which may be in line with the original production. The 1080P image is textured, colors may look a bit faded and it can appear soft by modern standards. The 1.85:1 presentation is consistent. The source is pretty clean, and I noticed no noise. This Blu-ray gave me a watchable, and presumably authentic - if less remarkable, viewing in regards to the picture quality.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1558 kbps (16-bit) in the original English language. There are effects in the film - guns, bus crash, cars etc.. They sound reasonably deep and realistic at times.The score is by Charles Fox (Barbarella, The Green Slime, Dying Room Only) adds flavor to this thriller. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
I think it's great that Kino are providing so many commentaries with their Blu-ray releases. The Laughing Policeman has an interesting one by Lee Pfeiffer, editor-chief of Cinema Retro Magazine with film historians Eddy Friedfeld and Paul Scrabo - they discuss the fine performances by Matthau and Dern and the film's forgotten status, underrated director - as well as the many support players. There is also an 8-minute interview with actor Paul Koslo - who played the incarcerated drug pusher in the film. There is an animated montage of images as well as trailers for The Laughing Policeman, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Report to the Commissioner, Busting and Fuzz.
October 10th, 2016
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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