Submitted by Julio M
Oscar Nominee: Best Actor – Paul Newman ; Best Supporting Actress – Melinda Dillon ; Best Original Screenplay
The whole conspiracy eventually unravels. Assistant US AG Wells (Wilford Brimley), in order to save face and do damage control for the fake investigation and its ramifications, fires Federal Prosecutor Rosen (Bob Balaban) and advises DA Quinn (Don Hood) to resign. The “Miami Standard”, by the hand of someone else, releases a new story that formally clears Gallagher (Paul Newman) and reveals details of the incident. In the end, although unclear if they are still together, he and Megan (Sally Field) are seen on good terms with each other.
Predictably so, Gallagher’s juicy donations to Quinn’s political team -which he undertook as a revenge ploy- start sending shock waves: Quinn drops the manipulated investigation; Rosen catches wind of this and starts surveillance of them both, thus discovering the move, as well as Gallagher and Megan being romantically involved; and Megan releases the story about the bribe attempt, which eventually attracts the attention of Wells.
Wells summons Gallagher, Megan, Quinn and Rosen and compels them to one of two choices: either going public in front of a Grand Jury or disclose it, off the record, to him. As he becomes acquainted with the murky details -particularly the facts that Gallagher was being wrongfully framed, never mind his mob connections, and that Megan was duped by Rosen leaving Gallagher’s case file on her desk to come after Gallagher in the first place-, he decides to dismiss the whole matter against Gallagher -despite strongly suspecting he went after Quinn and Rosen out of revenge for Teresa’s (Melinda Dillon) death but cannot prove it-, fire Rosen for his corrupt actions and goad Quinn to leave his position for accepting those contributions. Additionally, Megan loses credibility as a reporter and it is inferred, although not clearly stated, that she might lose her position at the Standard. Moreover, part of what prompts Wells to his final decision is that Gallagher reminds him that Teresa’s untimely death came to be because of the shameless actions of those men under Wells and it will go unpunished.
In the end, another reporter from the Standard breaks the truth about the whole story in full detail. Also, Megan goes to see Gallagher one last time; it is not clear whether they are still together, but they have one final friendly exchange and he is seen getting ready to board his boat and leave Miami, to get away from everything.