6.9/10
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113 user 26 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. 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:

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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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the film's movie posters/press ads featured a long descriptive preamble that read: "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 »

Goofs

Gallagher brings a bottle of wine to Meg's apartment and it is seen on the counter. The next time it is seen, it has been rotated, and the next time it is seen, it has shifted position towards the end of the counter. See more »

Quotes

James A. Wells, Assistant U.S. Attorney General: You had a leak? You call what's goin' on around here a leak? Boy, the last time there was a leak like this, Noah built hisself a boat.
See more »

Connections

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Newman is great in this Sydney Pollack film
13 March 2010 | by aj989See all my reviews

Sydney Pollack's harsh take on the press plays out with Paul Newman as an innocent liquor dealer and Sally Field as the delusional, yet still spunky reporter that implicates Newman in the disappearance of a local Miami labor leader.

"Absence of Malice" takes a rather tough look at the newspapers in this country. Instead of being the hero, as they were in say "All the President's Men," they are portrayed here as the agitators that don't seem to care about flimsy accusations and exposing very personal secrets.

The plot is at times a little too convoluted and Newman's character's actions/dealings toward the end of the film are a little too unbelievable for me, at least. Tension also fails to build. The film, however, isn't a mystery, so plot machinations like people getting murdered in a dark alley aren't here and shouldn't be.

Newman is great here. At his cool, suave best. Even at 56 years of age, he is still incredibly gorgeous. He could just coast on that, but he doesn't. He gives a polished and reserved performance, while definitely adding more layers to the character. Sally Field, on the other hand, is totally miscast here - too much Norma Rae here. She is feisty for sure, but seems to be trying too hard to play this strong willed, tough, and smart reporter. This is especially evident when she's playing against Paul Newman who in turn is giving such an effortless performance. Jane Fonda would've been so much better! Wilford Brimley is great in a small supporting role near the end of the film and Melinda Dillon, giving a very subtle and quiet performance, is very effective as a woman with a secret that eventually gets exposed.


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