Absence of Malice

Absence of Malice (1981)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Courtroom Drama, Message Movie  |   Release Date - Nov 17, 1981 (USA - Unknown), Nov 19, 1981 (USA - Limited), Dec 18, 1981 (USA)  |   Run Time - 116 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Michael Betzold

Kurt Luedtke translated his own experiences as a big-city newspaper editor at the Detroit Free Press to write his first feature film. He earned an Academy Award nomination for original screenplay for his journalistically credible story about a naïve, eager-beaver young reporter (Sally Field) misled by a federal investigator into fingering the wrong man (Paul Newman) in the murder of a longshoreman's union official. Directed by Sydney Pollack, the film was a box-office hit and also earned Oscar nominations for Newman and supporting actress Melinda Dillon. Most memorable is the scene in which Newman barges into the newspaper's city room to confront Field. Like most Pollack films, Absence of Malice is a showcase for its actors, who give depth and color to a polished though fairly conventional entry in the fading genre of newspaper movies. Luedtke later wrote an Oscar-winning screenplay for Pollack's Out of Africa and had a co-writer credit on the acclaimed Schindler's List.