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Philadelphia Movie-The Real Story

Tom Hanks as Geoffry Bowers with Antonio Banderas as   Miguel Alvarez

Tom Hanks as Geoffry Bowers with Antonio Banderas as Miguel Alvarez

The Movie Story

Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) is a lawyer and an associate at a Philadelphia law firm. Andrew is in fact a homosexual and lives together with his partner Miguel Alvarez (Antonio Banderas). Suddenly and without any notice Andrew is dismissed from the firm ostensibly for "jeopardizing" the most important case in the history of the company but Andrew is convinced that he is framed because he has AIDS and also because he is gay and so he decides to sue.

Denzel Washington as Joe Miller

Denzel Washington as Joe Miller

He finally gets a homophobic and HIV ignorant lawyer, Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) to represent him. After a series of twists, turns and courtroom drama Andrew Beckett is finally awarded compensatory damages by the court but the film ends on a somewhat tragic note when Beckett collapsed in the courtroom and finally dies in hospital.

The Story of Geoffry Bowers

There are many striking similarities between the life of Geoffry Bowers and the 1993 movie Philadelphia but one of the difference is that Geoffry Bowers' case took place in New York while the movie was set in Philadelphia. Another difference is in the name of the characters.

Geoffry Bowers was a New York attorney employed with Baker & McKenzie, an international law firm based in New York. Fluent in Italian, German, French, Dutch and Spanish he was an asset to the firm. In 1985 he began to experience throbbing headaches and yellow spots appeared on his skin. In April 1986 he was diagnosed with Kaposi's Sarcoma and with AIDS. In July 1986, two months after getting a satisfactory evaluation, his firm's partners voted to dismiss him without following normal termination process.

Bowers consequently filed a complaint in court alleging discrimination. A representative of the firm claimed at the hearings that Bowers was dismissed because of performance issues while Bowers claimed that his dismissal was as a result of the skin lesions that were appearing on his face and body. Bowers died in September 1987 at 33 just two months after the hearing began. His partner died a year later, also of AIDS. In December 1993 Mr Bowers (deceased) was awarded $500,000 in compensatory damages and for the back pay he would have earned had he remained employed. In 1995 Baker & McKenzie withdrew it's appeal after it negotiated a confidential settlement with the Bowers family.

Philadelphia Movie Lawsuit

One year after Bowers' death, movie producer Scott Rudin had interviewed the Bowers family and their attorneys and had allegedly promised them compensation for the story. The Bowers family consequently sued the writers and producers of the movie Philadelphia claiming that it was based on Bowers' life. They claimed that 54 scenes in the movie were very similar to the events in his life and that some of them could only have come from their interviews.

The law suit was settled in 1996 with the terms of the agreement remaining confidential although the defendants admitted publicly that the movie was in part inspired by Bowers' life.


Lisa on July 14, 2019:

This is a great movie. It shows you back then and still today how people will pass judgement on you based off of a disease.

This Prejudice of homosexuality still stands today in the 21st century, and it is a shame that it still does.

This is an awesome movie, I love this movie, and every chance I get to see it I watch it.


dorothea A Hill on September 07, 2017:

I only make $1400. a Month on Social SecurityWould like to see some of that money!

Giovanni Rodriguez Images on December 28, 2016:

Great film. Nice little article

R on November 17, 2016:

It seems to be a forgotten disease . So sad my brother died in 2000. Still no cure ? Why? Maybe only for the rich

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Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on July 24, 2016:

I loved that movie, and I think it was instrumental in changing many people's points of view regarding homosexuality. Tom Hanks was simply amazing. It is wonderful to know it's backstory, and I appreciate your telling it.



Kaz on March 31, 2015:

My 15 year old son is currently watching it as I type:- he's asking so many questions about certain scenes- I'm so Glad he has the chance to watch it at an age where he's able to question any views he may already have about aids or prejudice. Very important movie for young people to watch.

Yvonne on January 30, 2015:

I love this movie it's captivating sad but it also shows love among family and friends this movie makes me cry

every time I've seen it at least six times. on January 10, 2015:

I had an Uncle that died from aids. He was way too young to die so soon. This movie makes me think of him. Its heart breaking and yet a well needed cry. God bless all of the victims of this horrific disease.

Jardrake on December 07, 2014:

This is so heartbreaking movie, it was one of the best movies... made me crying at the end of the story-line of the movie.

Morngory on June 23, 2014:

I just recently watched this gripping movie with one of my housemates who's never seen this movie before but she said she really enjoyed watching it! Very heart breaking movie but even more disturbing is the fact that it's based on a real life person.

Derek Mattox on June 22, 2014:

The movie was so sad! However, it shows how heartbreaking views of others can be about anything they don't understand. Moreover how hard one can fright for their right to be treated with respect , what a moving story .

laurajane on January 07, 2012:

watching Philadelphia for the first time, such an amazing/sad film.

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on November 23, 2011:

This is a very interesting hub. I didn't know that Philadelphia was based on a true story. That's so sad that he had all of these talents and insights, but people couldn't see beyond his illness. Tom Hanks deserved his Oscar though, this movie broke my heart.

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