The excitement and intrigue inherent in a good journalistic investigation can be just as suspenseful as one grounded in the world of law enforcement. Recently, “Spotlight,” a film about the tenacity of journalists, won the Academy Award for Best Picture A fictional but compelling examination of the intersection of journalism and crime can be found in “Absence of Malice,” which was released in 1981.
In “Absence of Malice,” young journalist Megan Carter (played by Sally Field) learns of a good story from her boss, Rosen (played by Bob Balaban), involving Mike Gallagher (played by Paul Newman), a liquor wholesaler whose dad was a mobster. Rosen’s clues suggest that Gallagher is being investigated as he may have been involved with the disappearance and possible murder of a union official. Without doing very much homework, Carter writes a story on Gallagher. Since she never tried to get his side of things, Gallagher is infuriated by this sloppy and detrimental story. Realizing that she had failed to be thorough, Carter then tries to learn as much as she can about Gallagher’s side of the story. She talks to his friend, Teresa Peron (played by Melinda Dillon), who offers proof that Gallagher did not commit the crime.
“Absence of Malice” has a strong script, which earned an Academy Award nomination. It is fascinating to learn the details of Gallagher and Peron’s stories.
This is truly an all-star cast, and they live up to their reputations. Sally Field is great in the lead role. We see that she is somewhat naïve, but tries very hard to be truthful in her work. Paul Newman is equally good as Gallagher. His performance earned an Academy Award nomination. Melinda Dillon is also strong as Peron, who tries to help him. Her performance also earned an Oscar nomination.
“Absence of Malice” is a very good choice for fans of newsroom suspense and anyone in the cast.