Celluloid City: Absence of Malice Filmed at Herald, Vizcaya, Matheson Hammock
Florida was America's film capitol until the Puritanical residents of Jacksonville ran those industry heathens out to California in the 1920s. But Miami knows how to treat those denizens of debauchery, which is why they keep coming back to Miami to film movies. In Celluloid City, we spotlight some of the classics shot right in our own backyards.
In 1981, director Sydney Pollack (The Firm, Tootsie) needed the perfect location for a film about government corruption, shoddy journalism, and hot sex. So naturally, Miami jumped to mind as the ideal backdrop for his film Absence of Malice, starring Paul Newman and Sally Field.
Field plays Megan Carter, a journalist for a fictional paper, the Miami Standard, who systematically screws up Michael Colin Gallagher's (Paul Newman) life. She uses manufactured information from the prosecutor's office to write this-shy-of-slanderous articles about Gallagher for the government's own nefarious purposes. See the below clip? That's Sally Field doing bad journalism in the Herald building.
Unlike most directors, Pollock didn't rely on shots of Miami Beach. Instead, he chose some of our
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iconic architecture for his conspiracy flick. You'll recognize exterior shots from Matheson Hammock Park and
the Miami-Dade County Courthouse.
Filmed on location at Vizcaya and the Courthouse
Photos by Jorge H. Elias and Martin Rheaume.
Although Absence of Malice wasn't able to dominate the Oscars in a year
that included Chariots of Fire, Reds, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and On
Golden Pond, it was a acclaimed enough to receive several industry nods.
Pollack earned an honorable mention from the Berlin International Film
Festival, which nominated him for the Golden Berlin Bear. Field took
home the Golden Globe for Best Actress, but was ignored by the Academy
(apparently it didn't really, really like her that year). The Academy
did like the movie, though, nominating Paul Newman for Best Actor,
Melinda Dillon for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and Kurt Luedtke
for Best Screenplay.
Absence of Malice is full of intrigue, Paul Newman's blazing baby blues,
and shots of the inner corridors of One Herald Plaza. The tagline alone
is ominous enough to get you to watch this Miami-based classic: "Suppose you picked up this morning's newspaper and your life was a
front-page headline... And everything they said was accurate... But none
of it was true..." Oh, Herald, you must be so proud.
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