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Philadelphia (1993)

PG-13 | | Drama | 14 January 1994 (USA)
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When a man with HIV 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.

Director:

Jonathan Demme

Writer:

Ron Nyswaner
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Popularity
2,410 ( 381)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Hanks ... Andrew Beckett
Denzel Washington ... Joe Miller
Roberta Maxwell ... Judge Tate
Buzz Kilman Buzz Kilman ... Crutches
Karen Finley Karen Finley ... Dr. Gillman
Daniel Chapman ... Clinic Storyteller
Mark Sorensen Jr. Mark Sorensen Jr. ... Clinic Patient
Jeffrey Williamson Jeffrey Williamson ... Tyrone
Charles Glenn Charles Glenn ... Kenneth Killcoyne
Ron Vawter ... Bob Seidman
Anna Deavere Smith ... Anthea Burton
Stephanie Roth Haberle ... Rachel Smilow (as Stephanie Roth)
Lisa Talerico Lisa Talerico ... Shelby
Joanne Woodward ... Sarah Beckett
Jason Robards ... Charles Wheeler
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Storyline

Fearing it would compromise his career, lawyer Andrew Beckett hides his homosexuality and HIV status at a powerful Philadelphia law firm. But his secret is exposed when a colleague spots the illness's telltale lesions. Fired shortly afterwards, Beckett resolves to sue for discrimination, teaming up with Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), the only lawyer willing to help. In court, they face one of his ex-employers top litigators, Belinda Conine. Written by SAMUEL AXON

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 January 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

At Risk See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$26,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$143,433, 26 December 1993, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$77,324,422

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$206,678,440, 31 December 1994
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the scene shown on the television in the bar, then Mayor Edward Rendell was interviewed for the news. Jonathan Demme wanted him to follow lines in the script and Rendell had refused. He insisted on simply answering as he would for any other topic when interviewed for the news. As a result, he managed to get the take on the first try. Through the rest of his tenure as mayor, many referred to him as "One Take Eddie" due to this part in the film and his subsequent ability to do this shot in one try. See more »

Goofs

When Jamie is looking for files on Andew's computer at work, the computer, an old IBM PS/2, is switched off (the power switch is down). See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Andrew Beckett: [making their cases before the judge in her office] This 'pestilent dust' that council refers to has appeared on only three occasions. Each time it was tested and the results: limestone. It's messy, but innocuous.
Joe Miller: [leans in toward Andrew] Innocuous?
Andrew Beckett: Defined by Webster's as 'harmless.'
Joe Miller: I know what it means. May I?
[takes the packet of dust]
Joe Miller: Thank you. Your honor
[takes a whiff of the dust]
Joe Miller: , imagine how the children in this neighborhood are being made to feel: the constant pounding o-of...
[...]
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 »

Alternate Versions

The cable and network television versions of Philadelphia edit out portions of the pharmacy scene where a gay University of Pennsylvania law student attempts to pick up Joe Miller. These two versions end this scene with the law student responding "Do I?" to Joe Miller's question concerning whether Miller looked gay. In the theatrical, home video and premium channel versions, Joe Miller continues to berate the law student with bigot remarks regarding homosexuals. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Dying Gaul (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Sister Rosa
Written by Cyril Neville, Cyril Neville Jr., Daryl Johnson, Jason Neville, Charles Moore and Lyrica Neville
Performed by the Neville Brothers
Courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Moving and Powerful! Demme shines!
6 September 2004 | by pjaldo1See 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.


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