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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 a union head, the man's life begins to unravel.

Director:

Sydney Pollack

Writer:

Kurt Luedtke
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Newman ... Gallagher
Sally Field ... Megan
Bob Balaban ... Rosen
Melinda Dillon ... Teresa
Luther Adler ... Malderone
Barry Primus ... Waddell
Josef Sommer ... McAdam
John Harkins ... Davidek
Don Hood ... Quinn
Wilford Brimley ... Wells
Arnie Ross Arnie Ross ... Eddie Frost
Phanie Napoli Phanie Napoli ... Nickie (as Anna Marie Napoles)
Shelley Spurlock Shelley Spurlock ... Sarah Wylie
Shawn McAllister ... Hood 1
Joe Petrullo 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:

In America can a man be guilty until proven innocent? See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

18 December 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ausencia de malicia See more »

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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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sydney Pollack originally wanted Al Pacino to star as Michael Gallagher. Pacino was allegedly cast but then dropped out. See more »

Goofs

Other date continuity errors: After Meghan says that the year is 1981 and Michael prints a cashier's check dated Dec. 11, 1980, Meghan gives him the clipping announcing that the investigation is off; the clipping is dated November 22, 1980. Still later Michael gets another cashier's check dated December 16. See more »

Quotes

James A. Wells, Assistant U.S. Attorney General: You're a smart man, Mr. Gallagher. I'm pretty smart myself. Don't get too smart.
Michael Colin Gallagher: Everybody in this room is smart, and everybody was just doing their job, and Teresa Perrone is dead. Who do I see about that?
James A. Wells, Assistant U.S. Attorney General: Ain't nobody to see. I wish there was. You're excused, sir.
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Connections

Referenced in The Making of 'The Verdict' (1982) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
An important and great movie
5 February 2005 | by SHAWFANSee all my reviews

I did not feel too much the reservations some of your commentators had about the acting of Newman and Fields. I thought they were fine. But of course the importance of this film lies (as so many others pointed out) in its expose of the inner workings of our justice and journalistic systems and their ability to wreak havoc in the lives of ordinary defenseless citizens. I rather thought this movie a precursor of television's Law and Order for that reason. For me among the movie's many touching and beautiful moments the most poignant was the scene in which the soon-to-be-suicidal young friend of Newman's receives at dawn on her lawn the freshly delivered newspaper she'd been waiting all night for and reads with horror the "outing" of her abortion for all to read and proceeds to gather up all the copies of the newspaper thrown onto the neighbors' lawns so as to stave off her moment of shame and disgrace with all the co-religionist people who know her including her family. It reminded me of the scene in Rattigan's Separate Tables in which the middle-aged molester of young girls finds his exploits reported in a neighboring village's newspaper which has been delivered to his hotel. He then tries to cut out the revealing story before it can be delivered to its subscriber. But he too fails to suppress the news and has to suffer the consequences of publicity in his private life. Absence of Malice is a great and important movie


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