6.9/10
11,610
115 user 27 critic

Absence of Malice (1981)

Trailer
2:03 | Trailer
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 | Plot 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. 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:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to writer Kurt Luedtke in the DVD special feature The Story Behind Absence of Malice (2004), the film's story was inspired by the media law legal case of Times v Sullivan [i.e. The New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964)]. Luedtke summarized this case by saying that American libel laws, due to this case precedent, indicate that truth is not always necessary to journalism in situations involving public figures. As such, a newspaper can effectively make a bad mistake and hurt a public figure and the latter cannot always collect damages for it. See more »

Goofs

As Gallagher throws a newspaper on the table in the conference room, the position of one book relative to the other changes. See more »

Quotes

James A. Wells, Assistant U.S. Attorney General: Now we'll talk all day if you want to. But, come sundown, there's gonna be two things true that ain't true now. One is that the United States Department of Justice is goin' to know what in the good Christ - e'scuse me, Angie - is goin' on around here. And the other's I'm gonna have somebody's ass in muh briefcase.
See more »

Connections

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

User Reviews

 
Absence of Feeling
3 May 2003 | by RNMortonSee all my reviews

This movie looks to have all the elements of a classic but somehow falls short. Unscrupulous prosecutor dupes reporter Field into creating (false) impression that businessman Newman was involved in a murder, in the hope that will somehow help his investigation. The lie has unexpected and tragic consequences, after which Newman turns the tables. Field is fine as liberated yet vulnerable thirty-something, Newman is also good if a little obscure in a difficult role; but Brimley as Asst US Attorney steals the show when he finally blows the whistle on everyone. Brimley's short time in this movie really is classic and Oscar-quality. The overall problem here is a little too much soapbox and not enough real emotion from nearly everyone.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

18 December 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Absence of Malice See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$97,667, 22 November 1981

Gross USA:

$40,716,963

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$40,716,963
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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