6.9/10
9,993
78 user 26 critic

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:
...
...
...
...
...
...
Waddell
...
McAdam
...
Davidek
...
...
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:

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 »


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
See more on IMDbPro »

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

At around the time the picture launched in theaters, lead actor Paul Newman said: "I would say that 90% of what people read about me in the newspapers is untrue. Ninety percent is garbage. [Reporters] are expected to come up with something sensational every night of the week to keep their readers' noses buried in the pages, and, well, you tell me. If nothing's happening, what do you do? Well, in their case, they make it up." See more »

Goofs

When Teresa talks with Meg in the park, Teresa's cigarette jumps from her left to right hand. 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 Seinfeld: The Junk Mail (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Does Anyone Remember Maurice Nadjari?
20 December 2005 | by See all my reviews

For a while back in the seventies the hottest political property in New York State was one Maurice Nadjari. He was appointed a special prosecutor and ran up a big string of convictions of various figures on the New York scene.

Then his convictions began being tossed out one by one until a once feared figure became a laughingstock. Turned out he used tactics very similar to those countenanced by Bob Balaban in this film.

Nadjari turned out in the end to be worse than any of the people he was prosecuting. That's the message here, don't idealize some of these prosecutors on a white horse.

Bob Balaban is part of the Justice Department Strike Force looking into the murder of a labor leader in Florida. It's been months and his investigation is yielding bupkis. So he tries some extralegal tactics.

Paul Newman is the son of a reputed mobster, but who's been out of the rackets for years. But Balaban leaks to gullible reporter Sally Field that Newman is the target of his investigation. The idea is for Newman to go undercover and work to get information on his uncle, Luther Adler, who Balaban suspects.

Newman's reputation is smashed and Balaban's actions lead to the death of Melinda Dillon who is a friend of Newman's.

Paul Newman was nominated for Best Actor, but lost to Henry Fonda that year for On Golden Pond. Sally Field was at the height of her career. This film came right around the time she got her two Oscars for Norma Rae and Places in the Heart.

The leads and cast are just fine. This turned out to be the farewell picture of Luther Adler, one of the great character actors in the history of film.

However the two people this film really belongs to are Bob Balaban and Wilford Brimley. Balaban got his career role in this as Elliott Rosen of the Organized Crime Strike Force. He is truly one loathsome little creep. All it's about with him is getting another notch on his belt, another scalp for the lodgepole.

And then there's Wilford Brimley. He's the big honcho from Washington, DC sent down to do damage control when it all blows up in their faces. He gathers all the principals together at the very end of the film, like Nick Charles would, and dispenses the justice accordingly. He's on the screen for about twenty unforgettable minutes.

The office of prosecutor in our system is one of responsibility and should never be entrusted to any lightweights or any overly ambitious folks.


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