7.7/10
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Philadelphia (1993)

PG-13 | | Drama | 14 January 1994 (USA)
Trailer
2:59 | Trailer
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
1,727 ( 485)
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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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film cast includes six Oscar winners: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen, Joanne Woodward, and Kenneth Utt. See more »

Goofs

When asked at trial about covering up at work that he had AIDS, Beckett replies "I never lied". Point in fact, he lied when Walter asked about the lesion on his forehead as he said it was the result of a racquetball accident. Walter would have known at that instant Beckett committed perjury and brought it up. 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 Family Guy: Friends Without Benefits (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Agnus Dei
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
See more »

User Reviews

 
Hey, Mr. Hanks, when you are through with that family can I borrow them?
4 July 2017 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

Seriously, the thing that stood out for me in this film was Andrew Beckett's (Tom Hanks) great family straight out of a Norman Rockwell illustration. His parents are still together after 40 years, he was raised in a large home in a good suburb, he has numerous siblings and numerous nieces and nephews, and all are accepting of his being gay and supportive of his lawsuit when he is apparently sabotaged at work and then fired for incompetence when he believes the law firm partners actually fired him because he had AIDS and was gay.

This film was made almost a quarter of a century ago, and I guess to make Beckett sympathetic in those times there had to be nothing negative in his background. Thus the great family, his great intellect and passion for the law, and the solid long term partner in Miguel. His only failing - unprotected sex once in a gay porn theatre while in a relationship with Miguel. Thus the AIDS.

There really is no leading lady in this film. Instead, there are two leading men. Andrew Beckett as the plaintiff who cannot find a lawyer to take his case, and Denzel Washington as the attorney who ultimately takes his case, although he is initially scared of Andy, scared of AIDS, repulsed by the idea of gay people. Washington as attorney Joe Miller is portrayed as a devoted family man and flamboyant personal injury lawyer who thinks no plaintiff is too stupid to defend - numerous warning signs, plaintiff ignores them, plaintiff falls into manhole, for example. Yet he will not take Andy's case, initially. It's only after he sees a connection as to how he is treated at the public library for being African American and how Andy is treated there for being obviously ill of AIDS does he change his mind.

Where the great acting lies is in the growing friendship between Andy and Joe as they work on the case together. It is a subtle gradual shift in Joe's outlook until at the end, he buys a bottle of Dom Perignon to give to Andy in the hospital when, due to the price, he would not buy a bottle of that same champagne to celebrate the birth of his own child at the beginning of the film.

Honorable mention to Jason Robards as the chief partner of the law firm being sued who is more upset about the indignity of being hauled before the Philadelphia legal establishment as a civil defendant than he is about any possible loss of money, and to Joanne Woodward as Andy's mom who keeps a stiff upper lip in front of her son, yet the fact that he is dying in front of her is tearing her up. Sorry Mary Steenburgen, you are a great actress, but you just don't have me believing that you "hate gays", but you do have me believing you are a great attorney.

Today, lots of the characterizations may leave you feeling like you were hit over the head with a sledge hammer by Captain Obvious, but remember the time frame. People still had preconceived notions about homosexuals as in they must be deviant or have had something in their past that made them "that way", and they were definitely scared of AIDS and still not sure it was that hard to contract. Stick around for the great acting by Washington and Hanks and a host of supporting players. And also stick around for the final scene. It will jerk at your heartstrings.


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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 »

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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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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