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Absence of Malice

An interesting early 80's take on the responsibility of the press and the truth vs. character assault, ABSENCE OF MALICE weaves an interesting tale that will keep you guessing.

Sally Field (never one of my faves, but downplaying her usual overacting in one of her better roles here, one that Diane Keaton turned down) plays reporter Megan Carter, who is leaked a story by a prosecutor desperate for leads.

The attorney general's office is sure that Liquor Wholesaler Mike Gallagher (Paul Newman) is involved in a mob hit on a union boss, because Gallagher's father was a mob boss.

Gallagher, by all accounts, has never been involved in his father's business. As Megan writes a story implicating him, the ramifications begin to take apart Gallagher's life.

Newman is terrific as a good man scorned. When he decides to turn the tables on Megan and the Attorney General's office by beating them at their own game, am intelligent chess match of truth versus a good story emerges.

When Megan and Gallagher get to know each other better and a romance begins to spark, she's torn between the man she's getting to know and the man in her story.

Wilford Brimley (Cocoon, The Thing) all but steals the show as a no-nonsense judge who arrives near the end of the film to unravel the many pieces of half truths and just who's pulling the strings.

Director Sydney Pollack (The Firm, Three Days of the Condor) does his usual fine job behind the camera, bringing in a taut legal drama with more than its share of smarts.

It plays like the counter argument to "The Post" and "All the President's Men".

How would you react if you were falsely accused on the front page? Newman gives a master class on how an imperfect man pushes back. Malice gets a B.

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