Absence of Malice

Synopsis: 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.
Director(s): Sydney Pollack
Production: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
116 min



He's dead since June, boss.


The man, Santos Malderone.

And here comes our boy,

Michael Colin Gallagher.

Forty-three here, 47 now.

Tommy Gallagher's only kid,

nephew of Santos Malderone.

Occupation, wholesale liquor.

MAN 1:
Look out, punch is coming.

MAN 2:
Duck, Waddell.

Hey, where were you

when I needed you?

Hi, Donna.

Oh, hi, Meg.

Did somebody rob a bank?

Wish somebody would.

Anything new on Diaz?

Oh, sure, lots.

We're just not ready

to discuss it yet.

So where is everybody?

Oh, no place you'd care about.

They're all watching the movies.

What movies?

Surveillance film.

Tommy Gallagher's funeral.

It's pretty funny. Bob Waddell

gets slugged at the end.

Who's Tommy Gallagher?

One of the bad guys.

He got dead before you got here.

All the crooks showed up,

so we took pictures.

Ask Bob to let you see it sometime.


He's still crazy

about you, Meg.

He's a nice guy.


I've been here three years.

Why would they be interested

in a guy that's been dead that long?

That got him busted for

assault. That's all we got

on Michael Gallagher.

For those of you who are new,

his old man, Big Tommy,

handled five states' worth of liquor

and kept the longshoremen

out of Miami for 15 years.

He played rough.

If he'd been alive when Diaz got hit,

he'd have been Suspect 1.

Since he was dead,

he's not involved.

Big Tommy had a stroke in '67,

brought Mike down from Chicago

to run the family store.

Word is, Little Mike's clean.

I don't buy it. I wanna find out.

Meersma, IRS gets his last six years.

Six? Come on.

Work it like a net-worth case.

I wanna know every nickel he's got

and how he got it.

I wanna know his mortgage,

his car payments, and his 2106s.

Mac, you guys crawl

all over his union stuff.

Bob, Bureau gets the rest.

Friends, neighbors, butcher shop.

I wanna know where he was

when Diaz went away.

I want this guy to know

we're in town, okay?

Hey, Bob, Eddie.

How come the streets

aren't safe?


Disadvantaged youths.

You spent all morning

at the movies?

What movies?

The Gallagher funeral.

Donna said you might show it to me.


Donna's on her way out.

Hey, wait a minute, take it easy.

She didn't do anything.

What are you doing for lunch?

Sorry, I've got a date.

He's under arrest.

MAN 1:
What for?


Sent him to a homicide

on Southwest 8th Street.

Did you hear him yelling at me?

Rosie, line four.

It's the electric company.


Why do they talk in my teeth?


It's the only way

they can reach you.

MAN 2:

Apalachicola. A-P-A-L-A-C-H...

Sue, there's a story in here

on a Michael Gallagher.

I'd like to have a copy.

Make sure this is on the son,

Michael Gallagher, not Tommy.

Okay, fine.

Thank you.

Bob Waddell's office, please.





Sorry I'm late.

It's okay.

Got hung up on a rewrite.

Glad you called. What's up?


a vodka martini, rocks.

I wanted to make sure that

Donna didn't get into any trouble.

She's gotta be careful.

She didn't tell me anything.

She just said you were looking

at the Gallagher film.

Yeah, well, let's forget it, okay?


I'm buying.

No, no, put it on mine.

Hey, Meg.

Hi. How are you?

Did you know he has a son?


I called you last night. I thought...

Oh, I got in very late last night.

How'd you know he had a son?

Oh, I met him once at a party.

Oh, you cut your hair.


Well, it looks terrific.


He seemed nice.



Listen, I'm gonna tell you something.

You don't wanna have anything to do

with Mike Gallagher, not ever.

Especially not now.

Why not now? You gonna bust him?

He's already been busted.

For what?

For assaulting a federal officer.

Are you getting off

on gangsters now?

What is the matter with you?

Let's talk about something else.

Hey, can I buy you dinner?

Not tonight, I'm busy.

I just wanted to make sure

you didn't send Donna to Siberia.

That's all, huh?

Come on.

You'd let me know if you wanted me

to quit asking, wouldn't you?

I don't wanna be a jerk.

You're not a jerk.

Mac, I think the strike force

is onto something.

Must be an accident.


Guy by the name

of Michael Gallagher.

Son of a bootlegger,

Tommy Gallagher.

What have they got?

I don't know.

It must have to do with Diaz.

That's all they're working on.

What else have you got?

Supposedly, he sells liquor.

He's got a warehouse

on the channel.

Makes sense.


I ain't got it yet.

Work Quinn. He wants us to love him.

I'm not sure he knows.

He's DA, but Rosen runs

the strike force.

How about Rosen?


Christ, if he said word one,

it would be the first time.


Yes, sir?

Grace, there's a reporter

on her way here to see me now.

When we come in the office,

give me a minute and then buzz me.

Hey, Elliott?


Michael Gallagher.


The guy who hit Diaz.

You solved

the crime of the century.

Where'd you hear that?

If I revealed my sources,

you wouldn't talk to me.

That would be terrible.

The public has a right to know.

Where does it say that?

There's a sign on my desk.

Yeah. Well, it'll be

a dull conversation,

but come on in.

You want some coffee?

No, thank you.


What can you tell me

about the investigation?

I can neither confirm nor deny

any investigation in this office.

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Kurt Luedtke

Kurt Luedtke (born September 28, 1939) is an American screenwriter. He is best known for writing Out of Africa (1985), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as Absence of Malice (1981) (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay) and Random Hearts (1999). All three films were directed by Sydney Pollack. Before becoming a screenwriter, Luedtke was a newspaper reporter, eventually rising to the rank of executive editor of the Detroit Free Press. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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