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Absence of Malice
Format: DVD|Change
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on January 1, 2017
Perhaps this movie was ahead of its time given the contemporary environment with the US media. Journalistic ambition, a corrupt federal prosecutor and a cunning victim come together for one of the most satisfying conclusions highlighted by the introduction of WIlford Brimley make this a very satisfying movie. Paul Newman is the accused, but he knows how to turn the tables on his accusers. Sally Field plays a very ambitious reporter somewhat short on moral integrity who ends up in a relationship with Newman. Someone close to Newman pays the ultimate price that brings home to Field how far she has strayed with her ambitions. It is fun to watch Newman in action as the unflappable (most of the time) protagonist who isn't afraid to tap some of the resources in his checked family past (such as the Mob) to grease the way for his revenge. Top cast, excellent story, and a cautionary tale about how the media behaves.
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on January 27, 2016
What a perfect entry in the long and storied list of great films about Journalism in America. Depending on the story/narrative and the director, you either have the "Journalists are heroes" take (All the President's Men) or the Journos are evil take (Shattered Glass). This thoughtful Sydney Pollack-helmed film interrogates the question of whether the press, regardless of its Constitutional rights, really should destroy a citizen's life just because, in legal terms there is no 'absence of malice'. Paul Newman plays said citizen, and does so in the excellent fashion he did pretty much his entire career. Sally Field is absolutely top notch as an over-eager reporter who just may have stepped over a line that is not very well defined to begin with. The script, by a former journalist who apparently based Newman's character on a real life victim of over-zealous reporting is really, really good. Example, at the end of the film Newman's character says to Fields': "I suspect you are a damn good reporter," to which she replies "not yet." Great stuff, fleshed out by a great supporting cast. As many reviewers point out, Wilford Brimley threatens to take over the film in the final scene. Much the same way Jose Ferrer did so brilliantly at the end of The Caine Mutiny. But that doesn't detract, it only adds to the pitch perfect accomplishment of the film.
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on February 26, 2014
This movie is an important but fairly low key movie. It is also a thinking person's movie. It tackles the important issue of First Amendment rights. The American press is highly protected by the First Amendment right to free speech, and needs to be. However the American press is just as interested in making money as anyone else, and is likely to do almost anything to make that happen. The big question becomes how one balances these two incompatible goals? This movie pits these two goals against one another in a tight, drama filled picture that is devoid of car chases, gun battles, and funny sidekicks. Paul Newman is perfect in his role as an experienced small business owner pitted against an aggressive Justice Department inquiry and the public outcry from the community in which he lives, once he is exposed by the local paper. As it happens, this public disclosure does more damage than expected. It follows Paul Newman's character as he tries to right a wrong with this system that seems perfectly willing to crush people in its path.

Paul Newman and Sally Field are positively excellent in this picture. They are joined by a number of excellent performances by others, most especially Wilford Brimley, who displays incredible talent in his role as the assistant attorney general. I've seen Wilford Brimley in a number of movies and he has always delivered a first-rate performance. Here, however, he delivers a true masterpiece. This clearly should have been an Academy award-winning performance. This movie is worth seeing just to see that performance.

In my mind, this is a must see movie. It should be shown in every civics class in every high school of every city of every state of the union. No person should be allowed to graduate without having given this movie serious thought, by writing a term paper that obtained a B or above.
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on April 14, 2014
This is a story of prosecutorial excess. As head of a Task Force looking into the unexplained disappearance of a local labor leader in a Florida city. Bob Babalon at his nasty best decides to squeeze Paul Newman, a local businessman, who happens to be the son of one late mobster and the nephew of the current Capo, by leaking some information to a nosy reporter (Sally Field). never mind that the info is false and the prosecutor knows it's false, by linking Newman' character to the crime, Mr Nasty hopes to glean some hard facts on the supposed crime, Babalon could care less that by hinting at Newman's involvement, he cause Newman's business to collapse, because the Union who's missing their leader takes the false report as gospel truth and calls a wildcat strike that not only affects Newman's employees but the truck drivers who come in and out and won't cross the picket line. scratch a business that gave employment to workers that needed the jobs, but there was a fearful human cost, Newman's friend Teresa, who can supply information on where Newman was during the Labor Leaders disappearance, makes the mistake of telling nosy reporter this information, and exposing a guilty secret of her life to her. Sally Field who is looking for a scoop puts Teresa's secret in the newspaper, and Teresa unable to live with her secret open to public view ends up ........... well figure the tragedy out.

Newman decides to take action and effectively turns the table on all puffed up egos that caused all this misery, I won't mention just how he's able to do this, you'll have to see the film, the proper comeuppance is meted out to all those who deserve it. see the film, I promise you'll enjoy it.
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on April 19, 2016
Having seen this film many years ago I rented it on Amazon Prime to show it to my wife. I forgot how poignant and well-acted it is by two true heavy-weights of the cinema and a terrific supporting cast. Paul Newman is both rugged and vulnerable and Sally Field is tough and irresistible. Wilford Brimley steals the show in his only scene but it's worth watching the entire movie just to enjoy his work!
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on November 9, 2017
I added this to my DVD library. This tells you what I think of it. I'm sure I watch it several more times in the near future. I love Paul Newman's character.
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on March 11, 2018
Always liked Paul Newman and Sally Field but this movie involves a deeper issue, how ethical is it for a Prosecutor to use the press to smear individuals who are not guilty? This movie keeps your interest all the way through.
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on January 14, 2014
Besides the topicality of the subject matter even today and the excellent performances by the cast, including a scene-stealing tour de force by Wilford Brimley, this is one of the few Blu-ray renditions of an old movie (1980) you can buy that was completely remastered properly for modern HDTV and Blu-ray. On screen it looks like the movie was made for these technologies, although they were known only in research labs when this movie was made.
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on June 12, 2016
This movie is a scathing condemnation of the press and its ability to create and distort news through irresponsible reporting. It is smartly written and well acted. Its a bit dated. It is easy to determine the time period in which it was made, but its message is timeless. This movie joins at least two others, Sometimes A Great Notion and And Justice For All, as one of my favorite movies exposing problems with our American institutions.
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on February 17, 2018
Love both Paul Newman and Sally Field, but there didn't seem to be much chemistry between them.
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