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Absence of Malice (1981)

When a prosecutor leaks a false story that a liquor warehouse owner is involved in the murder of a 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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Waddell
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McAdam
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Davidek
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...
Arnie Ross ...
Eddie Frost
Phanie Napoli ...
Nickie (as Anna Marie Napoles)
Shelley Spurlock ...
Sarah Wylie
...
Hood 1
Joe Petrullo ...
Hood 2
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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 have no evidence that he's involved with the mob but decide to pressure him into perhaps revealing something - anything - about a murder they're sure was a mob hit. They 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:

|

Release Date:

18 December 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ausencia de malicia  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$64,775, 22 November 1981, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$40,716,963
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

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

Megan sends Michael a note containing two spelling errors. It reads "Michael: This is tomorrow's page one - just in case you've cancelled your sibscription - I'm happy for you," yet is told she'd make a good editor. However, she isn't being considered as a copy editor (who proofreads written stories from spelling and grammar) but for position of one who assigns stories and makes key judgment calls. 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: ...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Absence of Malick (2003) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Clever script, excellent performances, and a wry sense of humor
29 March 2004 | by See all my reviews

This one hit too close for comfort for critics and the news organizations for whom they work. Paul Newman gives one of his top 15 lifetime performances (and for him, that's excellent) as Tommy Gallagher, the owner of a shipping company in Florida. When the joint murder investigation by the federal and state authorities goes nowhere, D. A. Elliot Rosen (Bob Balaban) sets up reporter Sally Field with evidence seemingly linking Gallagher to the murder.

What follows is fast-paced, wry, and very well actor. Don't miss the chance to see the great Luther Adler in his last performance as Newman's mob-linked uncle.


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