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Philadelphia (1993)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  14 January 1994 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 169,721 users   Metascore: 66/100
Reviews: 256 user | 67 critic | 21 from Metacritic.com

When a man with AIDS is fired by his law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit.



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Won 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Judge Tate
Buzz Kilman ...
Karen Finley ...
Dr. Gillman
Daniel Chapman ...
Clinic Storyteller
Mark Sorensen Jr. ...
Clinic Patient
Jeffrey Williamson ...
Charles Glenn ...
Kenneth Killcoyne
Ron Vawter ...
Bob Seidman
Rachel Smilow (as Stephanie Roth)
Lisa Talerico ...


Andrew Beckett, a gay lawyer infected with AIDS, is fired from his law firm in fear that they might contract AIDS from him. After Andrew is fired, in a last attempt for peace, he sues his former law firm with the help of a homophobic lawyer, Joe Miller. During the court battle, Miller sees that Beckett is no different than anyone else on the gritty streets of the city of brotherly love, sheds his homophobia and helps Beckett with his case before AIDS overcomes him. Written by Geoffrey A. Middleton {gamidd01@morehead-st.edu}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


No one would take on his case... until one man was willing to take on the system.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some graphic language and thematic material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 January 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

At Risk  »

Box Office


$26,000,000 (estimated)


£9,439,124 (UK) (20 May 1994)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jonathan Demme initially wanted Daniel Day-Lewis to play the part later taken by Tom Hanks. See more »


The court stenographer doesn't seem to be actually typing, and the paper tape recording her keystrokes also doesn't ever advance. See more »


Judge Garrett: In this courtroom, Mr.Miller, justice is blind to matters of race, creed, color, religion, and sexual orientation.
Joe Miller: With all due respect, your honor, we don't live in this courtroom, do we?
See more »

Crazy Credits

"This motion picture was inspired in part by Geoffrey Bowers' AIDS discrimination lawsuit, the courage and love of the Angius family and the struggles of the many others who, along with their loved ones, have experienced discrimination because of AIDS." See more »


Streets Of Philadelphia
Produced by Bruce Springsteen and Chuck Plotkin
Written and Performed by Bruce Springsteen
Courtesy of Columbia Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Moving and Powerful! Demme shines!
6 September 2004 | by (New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

Jonathan Demme's "Philadelphia" throws us into a world of pain and stark truth that is few and far between in mainstream cinema. The sheer idea that a film would so blatantly take on the difficulty of AIDS and homosexuality, helmed by the director of "Silence of the Lambs", the actor in "Big" and the guy who played Malcom X, is staggering.

AIDS is a reality and homophobia is a nasty truth that permeates our "United" States of America, as well as the rest of the world. At the time that this film was released (about 1993), the U.S. found solace in the idea that AIDS and homosexuality were dirty brothers in a distant family. By placing the film in the "City of Brotherly Love", hiring Bruce Springsteen to sing the title song and having an up-and-coming Tom Hanks star, director Jonathan Demme wisely readied an ignorant America for our first, uninhibited glance into the face of AIDS.

Tom Hanks embodied his role in an Oscar-worthy performance, allowing us to watch as his lovely and lively Andrew Beckett deteriorate before our eyes. Tom Hanks and the writers took to task the difficult and annoyingly controversial hurdle of playing the "gay" character and placing the "straight" audience into that different world. Stereotypes are mostly shied away from in the script with a few "fem" gays and drag queens. These scenes are few, but are also a reality. Many a Christmas party have I attended with the same crowd ("fems" and drag queens) in the mix. The other, mildly annoying, factor in this film is that the writers inform us that squeaky-clean gay Andrew Beckett contracts AIDS at a porn theater from an anonymous stranger, while in a committed relationship. This annoyed me because I wanted a righteous victim, not a impure victim. Yet as time has gone by and I have had the opportunity to work with many a victim of AIDS, whether be it male or female, gay or straight, I have seen that this too is an unfortunate reality. No one is perfect (gay or straight, male or female) and mistakes are often made. Costly mistakes are often made. This was a painful truth, but it is a truth nonetheless. In this, Tom Hanks as Mr. Beckett, brilliantly gave AIDS an honest face for a distant America.

Denzel Washington, on the other hand, allowed America to have a relatable character, one whose shoes we've fit in before. Denzel's views of homosexuality were (and still are) commonplace in the American psyche and his reactions to AIDS were understandable to the average audience. Yet all in all this dramatic film brought a message home.

Demme's directing style is nothing amazing; he tastefully weaves a tale without flashy shots or fancy cuts. At times the film borders on preachy, but, as always, it is Demme's story that grasps the audience, his mood that sets us into the tale, his actors and his direction of them that gives the film honesty. This film is highly recommended if not for the great acting but for lovers of a great story.

58 of 77 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Just a bunch of question about some scenes I didn't understand badida_1995
Why didn't Andrew represent himself? braveulysses
Such an unnecessary ending. kaunte
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Scene With Andrew and Joe and Opera compbuttons
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