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Absence of Malice (1981) Poster

Quotes

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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.

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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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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.

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James A. Wells, Assistant U.S. Attorney General: What'd you figure you'd do after government service, Elliott?

Elliott Rosen: I'm not quitting.

James A. Wells, Assistant U.S. Attorney General: You ain't no Presidential appointee, Elliott. One that hired you is me. You got thirty days.

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James A. Wells, Assistant U.S. Attorney General: 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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James A. Wells, Assistant U.S. Attorney General: 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... Elliot? Jim?... Fine. All right, 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 A. Wells, Assistant U.S. Attorney General: Wonderful thing, a subpoena.

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Michael Colin Gallagher: Why aren't you married?

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

Michael Colin Gallagher: I don't see a ring.

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

Michael Colin Gallagher: Most of them are ugly.

Megan Carter: Is that supposed to be a compliment?

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

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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: - just raped!

Megan Carter: [screams] Stop! Michael!

Michael Colin Gallagher: She must have...

Megan Carter: Stop!

Michael Colin 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 Colin Gallagher: How about Friday?

Megan Carter: Okay!

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Michael Colin Gallagher: Waiter? Check.

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

Michael Colin Gallagher: You got some mouth.

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Megan Carter: Are you gonna follow me?

Michael Colin Gallagher: Uh, not tonight.

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

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

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

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Wells: [to reporter] Before we go any further, I want to say something to you: 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 lot we can do about it.

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

Davidek: Please, make the attempt.

Megan: All right.

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: 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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Michael Colin 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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