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Absence of Malice (1981) Poster

Quotes

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James J. Wells: I tell you something, you're a smart fellow. Don't get too smart. I'm pretty smart myself.

Michael Gallagher: Everybody in the room is smart. Everybody's just doing their job - and Teresa Perrone's dead. Who do I see about that?

James J. Wells: Ain't nobody to see. I wish there was. You're excused now, sir.

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James J. Wells: 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!

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James J. Wells: What'd you figure you'd do after government service, Elliott?

Elliott Rosen: I'm not quitting.

James J. Wells: You ain't no presidential appointee, Elliott; the one that hired you is me. You got thirty days.

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James J. Wells: We can't have people go around leaking stuff for their own reasons. It ain't legal. And worse than that, by God, it ain't right.

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Michael Gallagher: Why aren't you married?

Megan Carter: How do you know I'm not?

Michael Gallagher: I don't see a ring.

Megan Carter: Haven't you heard of women's lib?

Michael Gallagher: Most of them are ugly.

Megan Carter: Is that supposed to be a compliment?

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James J. Wells: Tell you what we're gonna do. We're gonna sit right here and talk about it. Now, if you get tired of talking here, Mr. Marshal Elving Patrick there will hand you one of them subpoenas he's got stuck down in his pocket, and we'll go downstairs and talk in front of the grand jury. 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 my briefcase. Elliot? Jim? Fine. Alright, Elving - hand whichever one of these fellas you like a subpoena and we'll go on downstairs and talk in front of the grand jury.

District Attorney James A. Quinn: Gallagher's a government witness.

James J. Wells: A wonderful thing, subpoena.

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Michael Gallagher: [tersely] I'm Michael Gallagher. I want to know where this story came from.

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Megan Carter: Michael?

Michael Gallagher: You don't wanna come in here. I'm warning you.

Megan Carter: Michael, if I could just talk to you...

Michael 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 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 Gallagher: - just raped!

Megan Carter: [screams] Stop! Michael!

Michael Gallagher: She must have...

Megan Carter: Stop!

Michael Gallagher: You know something? When you kill yourself, it's a homicide, so they do an autopsy. They'll get a knife. They start here. They're gonna split her open. Up here they use shears. Shears, for Christ's sake! Oh, goddamn you!

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Megan Carter: I am free every night this week but Friday.

Michael Gallagher: How about Friday?

Megan Carter: Okay!

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Michael Gallagher: Waiter? Check.

Megan Carter: Oh, no, no, no. I'll pay. Unless you think that would make you impotent.

Michael Gallagher: You got some mouth.

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Megan Carter: Are you gonna follow me?

Michael Gallagher: Uh, not tonight.

Megan Carter: You said you wanted me to know you fast. You're not interested?

Michael Gallagher: Maybe I'd like to think it was my idea.

Megan Carter: I'd like that too. Gallagher, I'm 34 years old. I don't need courting.

Michael Gallagher: I'm from the Stone Age. I guess I do.

Megan Carter: I'll send you a dozen roses.

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Davidek: Now, then, madam, you propose to say that Mr. Michael Colin Gallagher is the proximate cause of the demise of the esteemed Mr. Diaz.

Megan Carter: That's not what it says. It says he's under investigation.

Davidek: But Mr. Gallagher will think we make him out a murderer. As will his friends, neighbors. Let us assume that he is neither a murderer nor the subject of investigation for same. Let us suppose that your story proves to be false on its face.

Megan Carter: This story is true.

Davidek: Madam, if newspapers printed nothing but truth, they need never employ attorneys, and I should be out of work, which I am not.

Megan Carter: I read the file.

Davidek: I am not a whit interested in the facts; I am concerned with the law. The question is not whether your story is true - the question is: what protection do we have if it proves to be false?... Have we spoken with Mr. Gallagher?

Megan Carter: We don't exactly call the mafia for comment.

Davidek: Please, make the attempt.

Megan Carter: Alright.

Davidek: If he talks to us, we'll include his denials, which will create the appearance of fairness. If he declines to speak, we can hardly be responsible for errors which he refuses to correct. And if we fail to reach him, at least we tried.

Megan Carter: What are you telling me, counselor?

Davidek: I'm telling you, madam, that as a matter of law, the truth of your story is irrelevant. We have no knowledge the story is false, therefore we're absent malice. We've been both reasonable and prudent, therefore we're not negligent. We may say whatever we like about Mr. Gallagher and he is powerless to do us harm. Democracy is served.

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James J. Wells: [to Megan] I think I know where we're headed here. Before we get there, I want to say something to you: Now, you know and I know that we can't tell you what to print - or what not to. We hope the press will act responsibly. But when you don't, there ain't a helluva lot anybody can do about it.

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Michael Gallagher: You say somebody's guilty and everybody believes you. You say he's innocent, and no one cares.

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Megan Carter: Don't expect the truth unless you're willing to tell it!

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Megan Carter: Come on, Elliot, the public has a right to know a few things.

Elliott Rosen: Where's it say that?

Megan Carter: There's a sign on my desk.

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Bob Waddell: What? Are you getting off on gangsters now, Megan?

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Megan Carter: Hey Bob, Eddie. How come the streets aren't safe?

Eddie Frost: Youths. Disadvantaged youths

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Megan Carter: Why did Rosen want it out?

McAdam: Maybe he's trying to be a nice guy. Maybe he wants us to owe him a favor. Maybe he likes your legs.

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Megan Carter: He's an investment banker.

Michael Gallagher: My old man did that too.

Megan Carter: You're kidding.

Michael Gallagher: Only it was called "loan-sharking." There must be a difference., 'cause my old man did time for it.

Megan Carter: Oh, mine just hasn't been caught yet.

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Michael Gallagher: It's a nice joint. Free nuts.

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Michael Gallagher: Daytime, bananas; after midnight, booze.

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Megan Carter: Gallagher, I'm a reporter. What'd you expect? Don't try to make me feel guilty.

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Megan Carter: You're hustling me - and you aren't even hustling *me*.

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Megan Carter: "Quiet down"? Is that the only way you like your women - nice and quiet?

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Michael Gallagher: Couldn't you - stop scribbling for a second and just - put down your goddamn ballpoint pen - and just see her? Didn't you - didn't you like her?

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Michael Gallagher: Are you getting a little crocked?

Megan Carter: You want me to?

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McAdam: Remember the woman in San Francisco a few years ago, took a shot at Ford? And the guy in the crowd grabbed her arm and saved the President's life. And is a hero. Turned out he was also gay. That's news, right? Now the whole country knows that too.

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Megan Carter: Don't scare the tourists. The rule is, it's a shark if it walks out of the water, stops traffic and bites a cop. If they're just swimming around, we call 'em fish.

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Michael Gallagher: You want to know the truth? You want to ask me as a person, I'll tell ya. You ask me as a reporter, I got no comment.

Megan Carter: That's not fair.

Michael Gallagher: Not fair to who? Wait a minute! You don't write the truth. You write what people say. What you overhear. You eavesdrop. You don't come across truth that easy. I mean, maybe its just what you think - what you feel.

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Michael Gallagher: Things are not what they seem, Megan. Not always. You oughta know that.

Megan Carter: They usually are.

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Michael Gallagher: Maybe see ya one of these days.

Megan Carter: I'd like that.

Michael Gallagher: Not against the rules?

Megan Carter: I'd like it anyway.

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Megan Carter: Would you tell me the truth, Michael? I'd just please like to know the truth.

Michael Gallagher: Tell you - or the whole world?

Megan Carter: What's the difference? The truth is the truth.

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Megan Carter: Did you do anything wrong to get it?

Michael Gallagher: What's "wrong"?

Megan Carter: You know what wrong is!

Michael Gallagher: That's right. I do.

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Megan Carter: How'd you know I'd print it?

Michael Gallagher: It's news, isn't it?

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Sarah Wylie: That's true, isn't it?

Megan Carter: No. But it's accurate.

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James J. Wells: [listening to Quinn and Rosen arguing with each other] You two guys oughta get married.

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Megan Carter: I know you think what I do for a living - is nothing. But it really isn't nothing. I just did it badly.

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Davidek: Under the first amendment, my client is not required to reveal her sources of information.

James J. Wells: That's horse pucky, counselor. The first amendment don't say that and the privilege don't exist.

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