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
2,523 ( 487)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 23 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 ... 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

At Beckett's Costume/Memorial Party, the elderly chap standing next to 'Mona Lisa' is none other than Quentin Crisp, the British gay celebrity portrayed in Thames Television film The Naked Civil Servant (1975) starring John Hurt. See more »

Goofs

Denzel Washington serves the defendants with a summons personally. Lawyers in Pennsylvania and many other states are not allowed to personally serve defendants in cases where they represent the plaintiff. 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 ...
[...]
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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 On Story: Philadelphia: A Look Back (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Streets Of Philadelphia
Produced by Bruce Springsteen and Chuck Plotkin
Written and Performed by Bruce Springsteen
Courtesy of Columbia Records
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User Reviews

 
Compelling, but over the top
22 April 2005 | by scubergmuSee all my reviews

To me this movie is both a relevant and compelling story, as well as a model of overcompensation. I feel as though Philadelphia was trying desperately to show a touching, human side to the AIDS epidemic, but at the same time overly conscious of the lack of compassion much of middle America has for homosexual victims of AIDS. As a result, our protagonist Andrew Beckett is made to be a virtual superman. I would have had more respect for the film if they'd made him more like you and me. If he had been a bright, successful lawyer with friends, a loving family, and a serious relationship that would have made him someone we could really relate to. Instead, Andrew was a legal phenom, THE rising star, future senior partner, the future leader of the law firm. And in his personal life, he was the most popular person at his firm, beloved by all. More than that, he was the most popular member of his whole family, he was brilliant, affable, going straight to the top, simply AMAZING!!! Doesn't it seem like they tried too hard to get us on his side? To show the human story of AIDS, show us an actual person, not superman. That is problem with Philadelphia.

Having said that, Tom Hanks was fantastic, as usual. Denzel was also rock solid, his character basically representing all of us, the general public, the ones who don't empathize with gays because they either don't know any, or aren't conscious they know any, and fail to appreciate that they are real people and not merely stereotypes. His enlightenment with regards to this is one aspect of the movie I felt they came through on exceptionally.

Philadelphia was an important story to be told, for just like so many other human tragedies, for us the unaffected to be able to see just one example up close and personal, it carries so much more weight than all the news reports and statistics in the world. I hope it had some positive impact in creating compassion among the general public. I just wish the film makers hadn't felt it would be necessary to go to superhuman lengths to give us a character we could feel for.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 January 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

At Risk See more »

Filming Locations:

Pennsylvania, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$26,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$143,433, 26 December 1993

Gross USA:

$77,446,440

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$206,678,440
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby | Dolby Atmos (Blu-ray release)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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