Absence of Malice (1981)

PG  |   |  Drama, Romance, Thriller  |  18 December 1981 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 8,881 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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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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


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


Suppose you picked up this morning's newspaper and your life was a front page headline... And everything they said was accurate... But none of it was true. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

18 December 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ausencia de malicia  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)


$40,700,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This picture has often been considered as being the thematic opposite or reverse of All the President's Men (1976). See more »


Gallagher brings a bottle of wine to Meg's apartment and it is seen on the counter. The next time it is seen, it has been rotated, and the next time it is seen, it has shifted position towards the end of the counter. See more »


James A. Wells, Assistant U.S. Attorney General: We can't have people go around leaking stuff for their own reasons. It ain't legal. And worse than that, by God it ain't right.
See more »


Referenced in Newhart: Presence of Malice (1988) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

How to outsmart a covey of smartasses
13 August 2001 | by (Broken Bow, Oklahoma) – See all my reviews

Mighty good drama depicting corruption in the justice department intending, on the surface, to solve a crime, but, beneath the waters, to further political careers. Sally Field played the self centered, self deluded reporter perfectly against Newman's confused, angry victim. Worth seeing.

33 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Wilford Brimley was great bstar56
Megan is a poor excuse for a reporter caladon
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