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. The 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.
Absence of Malice is a 1981 American drama film starring Paul Newman, Sally Field, and Bob Balaban, directed by Sydney Pollack. The title refers to the legal definition of one of the requirements of proof against libel defamation, and is used in journalism classes to illustrate the conflict between disclosing damaging personal information and the public’s right to know.
Absence of Malice (1981)
Directed by: Sydney Pollack
Starring: Paul Newman, Sally Field, Bob Balaban, Melinda Dillon, Luther Adler, Barry Primus, Josef Sommer, Shawn McAllister
Screenplay by: Kurt Luedtke
Production Design by: Terence Marsh
Cinematography by: Owen Roizman
Film Editing by: Sheldon Kahn
Costume Design by: Bernie Pollack
Set Decoration by: John Franco Jr.
Music by: Dave Grusin
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: December 18, 1981