is a film from 1993 about a man named Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks
), who is an up and coming lawyer until his employers figure out that he has AIDS. Then an important complaint is suddenly misplaced and his contract is terminated on that account. Suspecting that his disease was the true cause of his firing, Andrew approaches an old rival lawyer named Joe Miller (Denzel Washington
) to plead his case in a lawsuit for discrimination. The two eventually team up to fight Andrew's firm while Joe struggles with his own homophobia and Andrew himself fights a losing battle against his disease.Philadelphia
is notable as one of the first Hollywood movies with a large-scale distribution to bring up the subject of AIDS, and it won two Academy Awards
: Tom Hanks' first for Best Actor in a Leading Role*
, and Bruce Springsteen
for Best Original Song*
- Amoral Attorney: Andrew's former employers.
- Birth/Death Juxtaposition: Just count the babies at that funeral …
- Bittersweet Ending: Andrew wins his case, but is unable to be present when it happens and dies soon after.
- Bury Your Gays: Andrew.
- But Not Too Gay: It received (and continues to receive) a lot of criticism for this, to the point where Tom Hanks addressed the issue in The Celluloid Closet.
- Camp Gay: Several of the guests during the party that Andrew and Miguel hold. Quentin Crisp, who as a real-life example of a Camp Gay also makes an appearance, though doesn't have any dialogue. However, Andrew also shows shades of this in a scene where he puts on opera music and explains it for Joe.
- Catch Phrase: Joe: "Explain it to me like I'm a [random single-digit age] year old"
- Courtroom Antics
- Cut Himself Shaving: Andrew explains the first mark on his face as a bruise caused by a racquetball.
- Evil Lawyer Joke: "What do you call a thousand lawyers chained together at the bottom of the ocean?" "A good start."
- Executive Meddling: Several scenes depicting a more intimate relationship between Andrew and Miguel were chopped out by the studio. They also attempted to block the casting of the HIV-positive Ron Vawternote , until director Jonathan Demme pointed out how hypocritical this would be in the face of the film's message.
- Fan Disservice: Andrew opening his shirt to show the jury his sores.
- Five-Token Band: Well, it was The Nineties, after all
- Gay Aesop
- Good Victims, Bad Victims: Invoked. When Andrew is suing his former firm for AIDS discrimination and bring up a woman working at the firm who also had AIDS, Andrew's former co-workers point out that she had contracted HIV from a blood transfusion. They make it clear that they reserve their sympathy for those who contracted the disease "through no fault of their own."
- Happier Home Movie
- The Hero Dies: Andrew himself at the end.
- Ill Man
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Andrew can be seen as this.
- Ivy League For Everyone: Andy is a graduate of Penn, and so is the only student that we run into.
- Pun: The intro shows a store named "Condom Nation".
- Magical Queer: the main character of the film is arguably Joe, as he is the one to go through character development. Andrew opens up his world (an the viewer's) by being endlessly patient and humble with both his disease and any prejudice surrounding it and his sexuality. He shares his wisdom and his loving family and social circle, and any lingering detractors (both in and out of story) is dealt the coup de grace when he dies peacefully in the end.
- Punch Clock Villain: The lawyers representing Andrew's former employers.
- Satellite Character: Arguably Andrew's entire family.
- Straight Gay: Andy and Miguel act more like best friends than lovers. The student who tries to proposition Joe in the drug store is also an example.
- Title Drop: Just about inevitable, given the setting.
- Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: Joe is himself quite homophobic at the outset. Getting to know Andrew over the course of the trial changes this.
- Wham Shot: Andrew's sudden collapse in the middle of the trial.