Absence Of Malice (1981) - Rotten Tomatoes

Absence Of Malice1981

Absence Of Malice (1981)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Absence Of Malice Photos

Movie Info

In this legal drama from director Sydney Pollack, Sally Field stars as Megan, an ambitious newpaper reporter who, based on information from FBI investigator Rosen, played by Bob Balaban, writes a scathing article that implicates Gallagher, a reclusive business-owner played by Paul Newman, in the recent disappearance of a labor leader. When Gallagher confronts Megan and sets her straight, the two team together to prove his innocence and have a few romantic interludes along the way. Wilford Brimley and Melinda Dillon also star. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi

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Paul Newman
as Gallagher
Luther Adler
as Malderone
Barry Primus
as Waddell
John Harkins
as Davidek
Don Hood
as Quinn
Arnie Ross
as Eddie Frost
Shelley Spurlock
as Sarah Wylie
Joe Petrullo
as Mobster
Sharon Anderson
as Secretary
Jody Wilson
as Ragged Lady
Jodie Wilson
as Ragged Lady
Timothy Hawkins
as FBI Agent
John Archie
as FBI Agent
Ricardo Marquez
as FBI Agent
Kathy Suergiu
as Reporter
Jeff Gillen
as Reporter
Diane Zolten
as Reporter
Ted Bartsch
as Beverage Manager
Chuck Lupo
as Dock Boy
John DiSanti
as Longshoreman
Laurie V. Logan
as McAdam's Assistant
Jack McDermott
as News Staff
Mark Harris
as News Staff
Lynn Parraga
as News Staff
Lee Sandman
as News Staff
Barry Hober
as News Staff
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News & Interviews for Absence Of Malice

Critic Reviews for Absence Of Malice

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (7)

Absence Of Malice is a well-acted, smoothly paced melodrama that suffers from an illogical premise.

October 22, 2018 | Full Review…

Absence of Malice does not invalidate All the President's Men. But with entertainment values -- and a moral sense -- every bit as high as that film's, it observes that there is an underside to journalistic gallantry.

October 1, 2008 | Full Review…

A splendidly disturbing look at the power of sloppy reporting to inflict harm on the innocent.

May 26, 2008 | Full Review…

Impeccably liberal in its orientation to 'issues,' his avoids the excesses of Stanley Kramer-like telegraphy, only to come up looking aesthetically wet.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

I not only liked this movie despite its factual and ethical problems -- I'm not even so sure they matter so much to most viewers.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

What Mr. Pollack's movies lack in momentum, they make up for in quiet gravity.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for Absence Of Malice

Understandably, this is considered one of the greatest movies about journalism. I think it is mostly due to the fact that it takes an even position on both sides of the story. On the one hand you have Sally Field as Maggie just trying to get recognized with a hot story, but then you also have Paul Newman's Gallagher falling victim to suspicion of criminal acts. Sydney Pollack makes a case for both sides and ultimately decides that they both have reasoning for what they do. When Paul Newman eventually sets his mastermind scheme into effect, we see who the true victims are. It's really interesting to see what goes into a news story, but also see that they aren't just made up words, they're real people and real events.

Conner Rainwater
Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

A great journalism drama/thriller with great actors, it's even pretty exciting for the most part. If you like movies about journalism, I highly recommend it.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


Absence of Malice is another one of those early '80's news/courtroom dramas where people have to face what's legal and what's moral. The film stars Paul Newman as Michael Colin Gallagher, a liquor warehouse owner in Miami whose father was a player in the syndicate. Gallagher is clean, but a federal prosecutor (Bob Balaban) use him as a way to gain leverage in the case of a missing union boss. A story is "leaked" to reporter Megan Carter (Sally Field) who ends up writing the story and starting the snowball effect of events that soon goes out of control. To be perfectly honest, the only reason to watch this film is for Paul Newman. Newman once again electrifies the screen. The rest of the cast is blah. The story, which starts out interesting, soon turns into a ridiculous cat and mouse game that is far from believable. You could compare this film to All the President's Men or ...And Justice for All but they aren't really in the same league. The only other redeeming part of the film is Wilford Brimley's cameo near the end of the film. He makes a rather dull ending a little more exciting. Other than that the film is a dull exercise in how to suckle onto a popular genre.

Chris Garman
Chris Garman

Super Reviewer

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