#45 Absence of Malice (1981)

Absence of Malice is a term thrown around in the journalistic world, meaning the journalists’ unaccountability for the harm done for an individual when reporting is done accurately to the best knowledge at the time and without bad intent – even if further evidence will proof that person innocent.

The story of press finding out a police investigation concerning a person of interest, which it then prints out causing a lot of collateral damage to an entrepreneur who then fights back to clear his name, is an unique and interesting one. As the network and news site competition has gotten a heck of a lot more fierce the issue is probably even more topical today than it was back in 1981.

The execution of the concept is professional with Sydney Pollack’s solid – albeit without surprises – directorial work. I’ve never been a fan of Sally Field’s timid screen presence, but her performance here is acceptable as a careerist reporter struggling to keep in balance with her identity as an objective journalist. The real treat here is Paul Newman whose screen presence is unparalleled, and who manages to steal every scene he stars in even with a very subtle performance seen here.

Lastly, Wilford Brimley makes one of his most prolific appearances as the Attorney General who comes to set the record straight in his own quirky fashion in maybe the most memorable scene of the movie.

80s-o-meter: 73%

Total: 72%