7.7/10
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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
1,551 ( 343)
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

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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

For the purpose of illustration, Joe Miller asks people to explain things to him in simple terms, several times throughout the movie. First, he requests an explanation fit for a two year old child. Later, for a four year old. And finally, for a six year old. See more »

Goofs

Andrew Beckett is called as a trial witness late in the plaintiff's case. This is totally incorrect as he would have been called to testify first as the plaintiff. That establishes his case early and also tries to force the defendants to give in and settle. See more »

Quotes

[Andrew transcendentally describes his favorite opera,slowly walking around his apartment, closing his eyes, looking up]
Andrew Beckett: Do you like opera?
Joe Miller: I'm not that familiar with opera.
Andrew Beckett: This is my favorite aria. This is Maria Callas. This is "Andrea Chenier", Umberto Giordano. This is Madeleine. She's saying how during the French Revolution, a mob set fire to her house, and her mother died... saving her. "Look, the place that cradled me is burning." Can you hear the heartache in her voice? Can you feel it, ...
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

Featured in Bruce Springsteen: Streets of Philadelphia (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Laudate Dominum
Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performed by Barbara Hendricks
With Neville Marriner (as Sir Neville Marriner) Conducting The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Orchestra & Chorus
Courtesy of EMI Classics
under license from CEMA Special Markets
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Script Hedged Bets Every Which Way
11 July 2000 | by WildBill-15See all my reviews

Others have commented on caricatures and on "heroes versus villains" simplicity of the characters. I generally agree. I should point out, however, that the plaintiff is portrayed as having succumbed to casual sex and professes to have been very naive about the etiology of HIV. As some have noted, the plaintiff's attorney is a homophobe and, Demme and the script make it clear, overcomes that tendency but a bit in the course of the film.

The caricatures to which I should draw attention are the lawyers in this lawyer-laden film. Demme and the script have created a festival of lawyer jokes. The advertisements and literal jokes ["What do you call 1000 lawyers chained to the bottom of the sea?" is an example] MAY have been an attempt to analogize between stigmatized social groups [such as gays] and stigmatized occupational groups. If so, I do not believe the effect was achieved. Instead, the film plays to stereotypes and mythology about law and lawyers.

Take the brief interview in which Denzel Washington's character establishes that a injured man is pushing a lawsuit without merit. Added to Washington's TV ads, the ambulance-chaser stereotype is realized -- but to what end? How does it advance anything to play to slander and innuendo about plaintiffs' attorneys? At best the viewer sees that, confronted with a genuine case, Washington turns it down to get Hanks' character out of his office.

Moreover, the laughable testimony by the law partners virtually handed the plaintiff the case. Why would lawyers tell stories about Navy latrines or expound on the Bible when they knew it would hurt their case?

So, when you hear that this film is sappy and politically correct, please realize that such comments are slightly off center. The film is sophomoric rather than sappy. The humanity of the Hanks character is actually realized deftly, in my viewings of the film. The film IS politically correct -- but the political correctness is in slurring lawyers as a class. It is politically correct to castigate lawyers.

Could have been a much better film with a little thought and care.


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