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Absence of Malice (1981)

PG  |   |  Drama, Romance, Thriller  |  18 December 1981 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 8,789 users  
Reviews: 72 user | 22 critic

When a prosecutor leaks a false story that a liquor warehouse owner is involved in the murder of an union head, the man's life begins to unravel.

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Title: Absence of Malice (1981)

Absence of Malice (1981) on IMDb 6.9/10

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Barry Primus ...
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John Harkins ...
Don Hood ...
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Arnie Ross ...
Phanie Napoli ...
Nickie (as Anna Marie Napoles)
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Joe Petrullo ...
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Storyline

Mike Gallagher is a Miami liquor wholesaler whose deceased father was a local mobster. The FBI organized crime task force has no evidence that he's involved with the mob but decide to pressure him perhaps revealing something - anything - about a murder they're sure was a mob hit. The let Megan Carter, a naive but well-meaning journalist, know he is being investigated and Gallagher's name is soon all over the newspaper. Gallagher has an iron-clad alibi for when the murder occurred but won't reveal it to protect his fragile friend Teresa. When Carter publishes her story, tragedy ensues. Needing to make amends, Carter tells Gallagher the source of the first story about him and he sets out to teach the FBI and the Federal Attorney a lesson. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The D.A., Feds and the police set her up to write the story that explodes his world. Now he's going to write the book on getting even. See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

18 December 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ausencia de malicia  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$40,700,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's "Absence of Malice" title relates to matters of law where the truth of a story can be irrelevant. If there is no knowledge that a story is false, then the media are absent of malice. If the media have been reasonable and prudent in producing a story, then they are not negligent. As such, the media can say whatever they like about someone and the affected party can do the media no harm (i.e. is powerless to stop them). Democracy is served. See more »

Goofs

The articles in the newspaper use "dummy text" unrelated to the headlines. See more »

Quotes

Megan Carter: Michael?
Michael Colin Gallagher: You don't wanna come in here. I'm warning you.
Megan Carter: Michael, if I could just talk to you...
Michael Colin Gallagher: Shut up! I don't want to hear it, I don't want to hear any of it! What the hell are you doing here? Details? Is that what you want? They found her naked in a tub. She didn't even want to make a mess! No water, just naked. Are you interested? You interested?
Megan Carter: Yes.
Michael Colin Gallagher: She picked up a newspaper, for Christ's sake! And there it is, for everybody to see! She must have felt like ...
[rips open her shirt]
Michael Colin Gallagher: ...
[...]
See more »

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Featured in The 58th Annual Academy Awards (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Absence Of Interest
25 July 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Spoilers Ahead:

Newman plays Michael Gallagher who the feds and local DA think knew something about the disappearance and likely murder of a union official. The movie follows the unethical Fed Rosen leaking a hit piece on Gallagher to the press to put the squeeze on him for info. Field is the reporter that publishes the story and serves, unknowingly, as Rosen's club on Gallagher. Gallagher has a very fragile friend, played by Dillon, who had an abortion, secretly, with Gallagher's help. She works at a strict Catholic school where this would be her utter doom if it were revealed. Unfortunately, and in a bit of a plot leap, she could provide the exonerating alibi for Gallagher during the Diaz disappearance. Newman gives a good performance but the movie is dry as a desert. Beyond the boredom, he begins burrowing his way into Field's life, ostensibly as a personal relationship, but really to discover which person planted that hit piece on him and is squeezing him. There is something so utterly sleazy and unseemly about Gallagher's wormy facade of caring, and using of Fields, like a tool, to get what he wants. Yes, he was put upon, they are harassing him but to feign sexual interest gives him quite a slimy persona and, more relevantly, makes us care less about what happens to him.

The suicide of Dillon, after she provides Gallagher with his alibi to Fields, at the same time utterly destroying her life, deepens our resentment of Gallagher. Granted, she did this without his knowledge of permission, but thematically it was a big mistake. We already have Gallagher putting the moves on Fields to get the info he covets, now he, inadvertently, causes another's death. He is from a gangster family and naturally is the only member who isn't crooked. Yes, please read some works on the Mafia, highly unlikely. He then attacks Fields in a scene that never could have been made today, stripping her clothes, throwing her around in a truly cringe worthy, badly written, inappropriate scene. The highlight of the movie is the appearance of Wildred Brimley from the Dept. Of Justice to unravel the Gallagher made scandal of bribery with the local DA. Brimley steals the movie; if you can make it this far, you will see the same brilliance out of him we saw in The Natural. I love that line,"You two ought to get married," addressed to Rosen and the DA yelling at each other. Also,"I am going to have somebody's ass in my briefcase."

This last twenty minutes of the movie are the highlights of the entire movie. I must be honest with you, the rest of it bored me to tears. I couldn't have had less sympathy for a mobbed up guy who uses a woman to get information pretending to care for her. I also found the delineation of Dillon to be utterly unreal. Take it from someone raised in Catholic schools, nobody working for nuns could ever have been that delicate or fragile. Her character is there to be the martyr that Gallagher needs to unleash the vengeance on his attackers. The character is barely adumbrated and poorly written. The scene with Fields was, believe it or not, criticized way back here as over the top and grossly offensive. It still is. Look, if your whole family were mobsters, who had killed people, am I supposed to pity you because people think you might be crooked? When she does get killed, gee, you think that if your family weren't a bunch of murdering maniacs, and she didn't get sucked into your family's sewage, she would still be alive? See, it is morally nebulous at best. I couldn't have give two craps about Michael Collin Gallagher.


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Megan is a poor excuse for a reporter caladon
Wilford Brimley was great bstar56
6.8? azumahh
Where did the movie take place? motyka
viewability? deaston
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