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 defamation and its definition, a key component of the film's message.
Miami liquor wholesaler Michael Gallagher (Newman) is the son of a deceased criminal who awakes one day to find himself a front-page story in the local newspaper, indicating that he is being investigated in the disappearance and presumed murder of a local longshoreman union official, Joey Diaz.
The story was written by Miami Standard newspaper reporter Megan Carter (Field), who reads it from a file, left intentionally, on the desktop of federal prosecutor Elliot Rosen (Balaban). As it turns out, Rosen is trying to squeeze Gallagher for information.
Gallagher comes to the newspaper's office trying to discover the basis for the story, but Carter does not reveal her source.
Gallagher's business is shut down by union officials who are now suspicious of him, having been implicated in Diaz's murder. Local crime boss Malderone, Gallagher's uncle, has him followed, just in case he talks to the government.
Teresa Peron (Melinda Dillon), a lifelong friend of Gallagher, tells