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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Director: James Goldstone
Stars: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Robert Wagner

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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:

In America can a man be guilty until proven innocent? 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

After preview screenings the ending was slightly altered so the relationship between the Michael Gallagher character played by Paul Newman and the Megan Carter character played by Sally Field was left open-ended and not close-ended. This is an old Hollywood movie chestnut where if love interests do not end up together, so as to have a happy ending, there needs to be a suggestion that the pair might see each other or get together romantically after the picture's end, and as such, the guy kinda gets the girl, or might get the girl, in the end. This was the clear intention of producer and director Sydney Pollack. This production scenario was reported in the 23rd November 1981 edition of 'New York' magazine. Moreover, the same ending suggestion happens at the end of Pollack's Tootsie (1982), where are Jessica Lange and Dustin Hoffman's characters have fallen out, they walk down the boulevard at film's end, with Hoffman putting his arm around Lange at the end of the closing shot. 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

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 The Making of 'Absence of Malice' (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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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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