A murder inside the Louvre, and clues in Da Vinci paintings, lead to the discovery of a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years, which could shake the foundations of Christianity.
During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.
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
Tak Fujimoto: The cinematographer appears as a doctor in the hospital immediately following the birth scene. See more »
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 »
[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.
[leans in toward Andrew]
Defined by Webster's as 'harmless.'
I know what it means. May I?
[takes the packet of dust]
Thank you. Your honor
[takes a whiff of the dust]
, imagine how the children in this neighborhood are being made to feel: the constant pounding o-of...
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"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 »
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 »
Others have commented on caricatures and on "heroes versus villains" simplicity of the characters. I generally agree. I should point out, however, that the plaintiff is portrayed as having succumbed to casual sex and professes to have been very naive about the etiology of HIV. As some have noted, the plaintiff's attorney is a homophobe and, Demme and the script make it clear, overcomes that tendency but a bit in the course of the film.
The caricatures to which I should draw attention are the lawyers in this lawyer-laden film. Demme and the script have created a festival of lawyer jokes. The advertisements and literal jokes ["What do you call 1000 lawyers chained to the bottom of the sea?" is an example] MAY have been an attempt to analogize between stigmatized social groups [such as gays] and stigmatized occupational groups. If so, I do not believe the effect was achieved. Instead, the film plays to stereotypes and mythology about law and lawyers.
Take the brief interview in which Denzel Washington's character establishes that a injured man is pushing a lawsuit without merit. Added to Washington's TV ads, the ambulance-chaser stereotype is realized -- but to what end? How does it advance anything to play to slander and innuendo about plaintiffs' attorneys? At best the viewer sees that, confronted with a genuine case, Washington turns it down to get Hanks' character out of his office.
Moreover, the laughable testimony by the law partners virtually handed the plaintiff the case. Why would lawyers tell stories about Navy latrines or expound on the Bible when they knew it would hurt their case?
So, when you hear that this film is sappy and politically correct, please realize that such comments are slightly off center. The film is sophomoric rather than sappy. The humanity of the Hanks character is actually realized deftly, in my viewings of the film. The film IS politically correct -- but the political correctness is in slurring lawyers as a class. It is politically correct to castigate lawyers.
Could have been a much better film with a little thought and care.
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