Police lieutenant Nyman who is a patient at a hospital in Stockholm is brutally murdered, stabbed repeatedly with a bayonet. The investigation that follows is led by Martin Beck (Carl-Gustaf Lindstedt) and Einar Rönn (Håkan Serner). It turns out that the murdered man had sadistic tendencies and was known among his colleagues for abusing his police privileges and brutalizing civilians. Although his colleagues had been aware of his behaviour, the police force’s esprit de corps had suppressed complaints about him and prevented any reprisals.
The investigation proceeds, and finally Beck and his team find a trail that leads to the murderer, who turns out to be an ex-policeman named Åke Eriksson (Ingvar Hirdwall). Eriksson’s wife Marja had diabetes, and one day, in need of insulin, she had fallen into a coma. She was mistaken by the police as a drunk and put in a jail cell, under the orders of Nyman, where she died. Eriksson blamed the police force for the death of his wife. Now, some years later, he has become a social misfit and the authorities are in the process of removing his daughter Malin from his custody. As Beck and his team close in on Eriksson he climbs up on the roof of the apartment building where he lives in central Stockholm, bringing with him both an automatic rifle and a sharpshooter’s rifle. He starts to fire at any policeman and police vehicle he can spot, picking off several policemen. When the police commissioner decides to bring in the anti-terrorist units, including two police helicopters, Eriksson shoots up one of the helicopters so it crashes on a crowded plaza near the building where he resides. Beck needs to figure out how to take Eriksson out together with his colleagues Lennart Kollberg (Sven Wollter) and Gunvald Larsson (Thomas Hellberg)…

“The Man On The Roof” is a 1976 Swedish film directed by Bo Widerberg, based on the 1971 novel The Abominable Man by Sjöwall and Wahlöö. Widerberg was inspired by the 1971 film “The French Connection” and he wanted to make a Swedish equivalent of that film. The actor Carl-Gustaf Lindstedt was picked for the part as the policeman Beck after Wideberg had seen him with a serious face in a talk show not knowing he was on air. Earlier Lindstedt was mostly known for roles in comedy films. Not one tripod was used for this movie – everything is shot with hand held camera, unique for the Swedish movie industry at the time of shooting. And insurance companies claimed that the helicopter crash would be too dangerous to shoot from a close distance, so director Bo Widerberg himself shot the sequence with a hand-held camera from the riskiest angles. The film won two swedish Guldbagge Awards in 1977, for Best Film and Best Actor (Håkan Serner). The critics were very positive and especially praised the dialogue. Around 750,000 people attended the film in Sweden, making it the most successful film produced by the Swedish Film Institute until Fanny and Alexander was released in 1982. What Bo Widerberg managed to do with “The Man On The Roof” was to create a very dramatic, intense (yet low-key and dialogue driven), nicely shot, action packed police thriller with an american touch you simply won´t forget once you have seen it. Widerbergs style of direction was well known as being straight forward, crazy, intense and more or less anarchic, and I reckon that´s how he made his best movies. The acting is superb and minimalistic (love how Widerberg could use someone literally from the street in a whim in the movie). The attention to detail is beautiful. And the dialogue is great in a combination with the cinematography. Widerberg perfected the swedish action thriller a bit later with “The Man from Majorca” in 1984. “The Man On The Roof” is still one of the best swedish movies ever made and it was a true pleasure to re-see it. (4 and a half out of 5)