Philadelphia (film)

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Philadelphia

Theatrical release poster
Directed byJonathan Demme
Produced byJonathan Demme
Edward Saxon
Written byRon Nyswaner
StarringTom Hanks
Denzel Washington
Jason Robards
Mary Steenburgen
Antonio Banderas
Joanne Woodward
Charles Napier
Music byHoward Shore
CinematographyTak Fujimoto
Editing byCraig McKay
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release date(s)
  • December 24, 1993 (1993-12-24)
Running time125 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$26 million
Box office$206,678,440[1]
 
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Philadelphia

Theatrical release poster
Directed byJonathan Demme
Produced byJonathan Demme
Edward Saxon
Written byRon Nyswaner
StarringTom Hanks
Denzel Washington
Jason Robards
Mary Steenburgen
Antonio Banderas
Joanne Woodward
Charles Napier
Music byHoward Shore
CinematographyTak Fujimoto
Editing byCraig McKay
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release date(s)
  • December 24, 1993 (1993-12-24)
Running time125 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$26 million
Box office$206,678,440[1]

Philadelphia is a 1993 American drama film and one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, and homophobia. It was written by Ron Nyswaner and directed by Jonathan Demme. The film stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington.

Tom Hanks won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the film, while the song "Streets of Philadelphia" by Bruce Springsteen won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Ron Nyswaner was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, but lost to Jane Campion for The Piano.

Contents

Plot

Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) is a senior associate at the largest corporate law firm in Philadelphia. Although he lives with his partner Miguel Álvarez (Antonio Banderas), Beckett is not open about his homosexuality at the law firm, nor the fact that he has AIDS. On the day he is assigned the firm's newest and most important case, one of the firm's partners notices a small lesion on Beckett's forehead. Shortly thereafter, Beckett stays home from work for several days to try to find a way to hide his lesions. While at home, he finishes the complaint for the case he has been assigned and then brings it to his office, leaving instructions for his assistants to file the complaint in court on the following day, which marks the end of the statute of limitations for the case. Beckett suffers from bowel spasms at home and is rushed to the hospital. Later that morning, while still at the ER, he receives a frantic call from the firm asking for the complaint, as the paper copy cannot be found and there are no copies on the computer's hard drive. However, the complaint is finally discovered and is filed with the court at the last possible moment. The following day, Beckett is dismissed by the firm's partners, who had previously referred to him as their "buddy", but now question his professional abilities in light of the misplaced document.

Beckett believes that someone deliberately hid his paperwork to give the firm a pretext to fire him, and that the firing is actually as a result of his diagnosis with AIDS. He asks several attorneys to take his case, including personal injury lawyer Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), with whom he had been involved in a previous case. Miller, who is admittedly homophobic and knows little about AIDS, initially declines to take the case and immediately visits his doctor to find out if he could have contracted the AIDS through shaking Beckett's hand. The doctor explains the methods of HIV infection. The doctor then offers to take a sample of Miller's blood, suspecting that Miller was asking about AIDS because he suspected he had contracted it and was trying to hide it. Miller dismisses the request by laughing it off, taking it as a joke. Unable to find a lawyer willing to represent him, Beckett is compelled to act as his own attorney. While researching a case at a law library, Miller sees Beckett at a nearby table. After a librarian announces that he has found a book on AIDS discrimination for Beckett, others in the library begin to first stare and then move away, and the librarian suggests Beckett retire to a private room. Disgusted by their behavior, Miller approaches Beckett and reviews the material he has gathered. It is obvious he has decided to take the case. Upon receiving a summons by Miller, the head of the firm, Charles Wheeler (Jason Robards), worries about the damage the lawsuit could do to his business and reputation, although one partner (Ron Vawter) unsuccessfully tries to convince them to settle out of court with Beckett.

As the case goes before the court, Wheeler takes the stand, claiming that Beckett was incompetent and claiming that he had deliberately tried to hide his condition. The defense repeatedly suggests that Beckett had invited his illness through promiscuity and was therefore not a victim. In the course of testimony, it is revealed that the partner who had noticed Beckett's lesion had previously worked with a woman who had contracted AIDS after a blood transfusion and so would have recognized the lesion as relating to AIDS. In one of the most dramatic scenes, and to prove that the lesions would have been visible, Miller asks Beckett to unbutton his shirt while on the witness stand, revealing that his lesions were indeed visible and recognizable as such.

During cross-examination, Beckett admits that he was originally planning to tell his law colleagues that he was gay, but changed his mind after hearing them make homophobic jokes in the sauna of a health club. When asked about the truth of how he got infected, he confirms that he engaged in anonymous sex with another man at a pornographic movie theater. However, he and Miller gain an advantage when the partner who advised settling out of court confesses he long suspected Beckett had AIDS but never said anything, and how he regrets his inaction.

Beckett collapses during Wheeler's testimony. During his hospitalization, the jury votes in his favor, awarding him back pay, damages for pain and suffering, and punitive damages totaling more than $5M. Miller visits Beckett in the hospital after the verdict and overcomes his fear enough to touch Beckett's face. After Beckett's family leaves the room, he tells Miguel that he is ready to die. A short scene immediately afterward shows Miller getting the word that Beckett has died. The movie ends with a reception at Beckett's home following the funeral, where many mourners, including the Millers, view home movies of Beckett as a healthy child.

Cast


John Leguizamo turned down the role of Miguel Álvarez to do Super Mario Bros.

Inspiration

The events in the film are similar to the events in the lives of attorneys Geoffrey Bowers and Clarence B. Cain.

Bowers was an attorney who in 1987 sued the law firm Baker & McKenzie for wrongful dismissal in one of the first AIDS discrimination cases. Cain was an attorney for Hyatt Legal Services who was fired after his employer found out he had AIDS. He sued Hyatt in 1990 and won just before his death.[3]

Bowers' family sued the writers and producers. A year after Bowers's death, producer Scott Rudin interviewed the Bowers family and their lawyers and, according to the family, promised compensation for the use of Bowers's story as a basis for the film. Family members asserted that 54 scenes in the movie are so similar to events in Bowers's life that some of them could only have come from their interviews. However, the defense said that Rudin abandoned the project after hiring a writer and did not share any information the family had provided.[4] The lawsuit was settled after five days of testimony. Although terms of the agreement were not released, the defendants did admit that "the film 'was inspired in part'" by Bowers's story.[5]

Jonathan Demme has stated that he was moved to direct the film after a friend of his, the illustrator Juan Suarez Botas, was diagnosed with AIDS.

Release

Box office

Philadelphia was originally released on December 24, 1993, to a limited opening weekend of only 4 theaters and grossed $143,433 with an average of $35,858 per theater. The film expanded its release on January 14, 1994, showing in 1,245 theaters and grossing $13,817,010 in a 4-day weekend due to Martin Luther King Day.

Philadelphia eventually grossed $77,446,440 in the US and $129,232,000 overseas for a total of $206,678,440. It was a commercial success, becoming the 12th highest grossing film in the US of 1993.[1]

Reaction

The film was the second Hollywood big-budget, big-star film to tackle the issue of AIDS in the U.S. (following the TV movie And the Band Played On) and signaled a shift in Hollywood films toward more realistic depictions of gays and lesbians. According to a Tom Hanks interview for the 1996 documentary The Celluloid Closet, scenes showing more affection between him and Banderas were cut, including one with him and Banderas in bed together. The DVD edition, produced by Automat Pictures, includes this scene.[6]

Reception

Philadelphia was well received by critics, garnering a 77% approval rating at online movie critic site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 47 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10 from its normal contributors and an 86% approval rating from the site's top critics.[7]

Accolades

The film won Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Tom Hanks), and Best Original Song (Bruce Springsteen for "Streets of Philadelphia"). Tom Hanks also won the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 44th Berlin International Film Festival.[8]

It was also nominated for another Best Original Song award (Neil Young) for "Philadelphia", as well as Best Makeup (Carl Fullerton and Alan D'Angerio), and Best Original Screenplay (Ron Nyswaner).[9]

This film's protagonist, Andrew Beckett, is listed at #49 among the heroes on the AFI's list of the Top 100 Heroes and Villains.

The film was ranked #20 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers.

Soundtrack

A soundtrack album was released in 1993 containing the main music featured in the film.[10]

Track listing

No.TitleArtist(s)Length
1."Streets of Philadelphia"  Bruce Springsteen3:56
2."Lovetown"  Peter Gabriel5:29
3."It's in Your Eyes"  Pauletta Washington3:46
4."Ibo Lele (Dreams Come True)"  Ram (16)4:15
5."Please Send Me Someone to Love"  Sade3:44
6."Have You Ever Seen the Rain?"  Spin Doctors2:41
7."I Don't Wanna Talk About It"  Indigo Girls3:41
8."La mamma morta" (From the Opera Andrea Chénier)Maria Callas4:53
9."Philadelphia"  Neil Young4:06
10."Precedent"  Howard Shore4:03

The album was rereleased in 2008 in France only as a joint CD and DVD pack with the film itself, however the track listing remained the same. The catalogue number is 88697 322052 under both the Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Sony Classical labels with identical catalogue numbers.[11]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Philadelphia (1993), Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Fox, Margalit (2012-11-06). "Robert W. Castle Jr., Outspoken Harlem Priest and Accidental Actor, Dies at 83". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/07/nyregion/robert-w-castle-jr-outspoken-harlem-priest-dies-at-83.html?ref=obituaries&_r=1&. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  3. ^ Margolick, David (April 13, 1990). "LAW: AT THE BAR; A Lawyer With AIDS Wins a Legal Victory, and Gives His Employer Some Unwelcome Publicity". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/04/13/us/law-bar-lawyer-with-aids-wins-legal-victory-gives-his-employer-some-unwelcome.html.
  4. ^ Pristin, Terry (March 11, 1996), "Philadelphia Screenplay Suit to Reach Court", New York Times, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9405E3DB1039F932A25750C0A960958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all, retrieved 2008-02-25
  5. ^ "Philadelphia Makers Settle Suit", New York Times, March 20, 1996, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9502E6D91739F933A15750C0A960958260, retrieved 2008-02-25
  6. ^ Philadelphia. Dir. Jonathan Demme. Perf. Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington. TriStar Pictures, 1993.
  7. ^ Philadelphia. Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  8. ^ "Berlinale: 1994 Prize Winners". berlinale.de. http://www.berlinale.de/en/archiv/jahresarchive/1994/03_preistr_ger_1994/03_Preistraeger_1994.html. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
  9. ^ Cante, Richard C. (March 2009), Gay Men and the Forms of Contemporary US Culture, London: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0-7546-7230-1. Chapter 3: Afterthoughts from Philadelphia...and Somewhere Else
  10. ^ http://www.discogs.com/Various-Philadelphia-Music-From-The-Motion-Picture/master/77792
  11. ^ http://www.discogs.com/Various-Philadelphia-Music-From-The-Motion-Picture/release/2397401

External links