By Corey Quinto-
Based on true-life events, this 1993 film depicts Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks), and attorney who is diagnosis with HIV, AIDS and loses his job. Beckett, with the help of lawyer Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), take this appalling act to court where Andrew claims that he was fired out of discrimination because of his illness. The movie captures the times in Philadelphia perfectly by touching on themes of sexuality and discrimination. Tom Hanks’ portrayal of Andrew Beckett is remarkable and heartbreaking and the chemistry between him and Denzel Washington is incredible. Director Jonathan Demme captures the city of brotherly love perfectly through his sharp directing, fantastic screenplay, and its strong subject matter.
I found it very important to include the tagline from this film and highlight its meaning; “No one would take on his case…until one man was willing to take on the system”. When Beckett met Miller, he knew he found his man. Andrew had considered defending himself until he met Joe.
The events portrayed in the film were mirrored the lives of attorneys Geoffrey Bowers and Clarence B. Cain. In 1987, Bowers, a practicing attorney, sued the law firm of Baker & McKenzie for wrongful dismissal. This case was one of the first AIDS discrimination lawsuits. Cain, who was also diagnosed with AIDS and fired by law firm of Hyatt Legal Services, sued Hyatt in 1990 and won just before he passed away.
According to Bowers’ family, fifty-four of the scenes from the movie Philadelphia were taken from Geoffrey’s real life situation. The Bowers family eventually sued the writers and producers, claiming that exact ideas could only have come from stories shared by friends and family during the interview process. The suit was settled in a short five days but no details were released.
With five Academy Award nominations, Tom Hanks won the Oscar for Best Actor and Bruce Springsteen for Best Original Song, “Streets of Philadelphia”. With a small budget of only twenty-six million dollars, this box office sensation was the twelfth highest grossing film in 1993 throughout the United States.