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Absence of Malice (1981)

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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:

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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

18 December 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ausencia de malicia See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$64,775, 22 November 1981

Gross USA:

$40,716,963
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

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

Screenwriter Kurt Luedtke based the movie on a true life case of a Washington Post correspondent who won a Pulitzer Prize for a fabricated story and later had to return the award. See more »

Goofs

Other date continuity errors: After Meghan says that the year is 1981 and Michael prints a cashier's check dated Dec. 11, 1980, Meghan gives him the clipping announcing that the investigation is off; the clipping is dated November 22, 1980. Still later Michael gets another cashier's check dated December 16. See more »

Quotes

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?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Newhart: Presence of Malice (1988) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Compelling
20 October 1998 | by GislefSee all my reviews

There's really no other word for it. I find the whole of this movie compelling, from Sally Fields' naivete to Paul Newman's innocent who turns the tables on his prosecutors, to the various supporting characters who all have their little niche. The best of all is Wilford Brimley, who gets to chew scenery and totally steal the scene he's in. It's an intelligent drama, addressing a subject as relevant today as it was in '81, with just enough humor to leaven the whole thing.


37 of 49 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
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