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Absence of Malice (1981)

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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

Cast overview, first billed only:
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John Harkins ...
Don Hood ...
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Arnie Ross ...
Phanie Napoli ...
Nickie (as Anna Marie Napoles)
Shelley Spurlock ...
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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 »

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Details

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Release Date:

18 December 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ausencia de malicia  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$40,700,000 (USA)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the film, Davidek, the newspaper's lawyer character, portrayed by John Harkins, explains the relevance of the film's "Absence of Malice" title. In a matter of law, 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

When the police helicopter is first seen, it is sitting on the ground. You hear its engine running and the sound of its rotors beating the air, but the rotors aren't moving, so the engine cannot be running. See more »

Quotes

Megan Carter: I am free every night this week but Friday.
Michael Colin Gallagher: How about Friday?
Megan Carter: Okay!
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Connections

Referenced in Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
All the news that's fit to print (and then some)
1 October 2005 | by (Oldham, Gtr Manchester, England.) – See all my reviews

This movie provides a clever insight into the principles the press live by. Reporters sometimes lose their basic humanity because they're not looking at the human interest, but at covering all the angles. What's newsworthy is what's in the public domain as fact, not gossip. It's definitely something to think about in this age when large sections of the media are intent on muckraking over the affairs of those who are deemed to be 'high-profile'...

The movie asks us, though, to keep in mind that sometimes there's more going on than meets the eye, and that certain acts function as a means to an end. It can be seen as an extension of that great 70's movie tradition where acclaimed directors make polished films exposing high-level corruption. "Absence of Malice" is an involving exercise in paranoid mystery, with Newman in fine form as always, and Sally Field providing capable support.


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