Philadelphia | 1993
Jonathan Demme’s determinedly mainstream movie about Aids prejudice is calculatedly set in Philadelphia, the city of liberty, independence and brotherly love, kicking off with a montage of such Philadelphian images as the Benjamin Franklin Bridge over the Delaware River, the glitzy modernistic skyscrapers of Liberty Place and the Liberty Bell itself.
Like most of Demme’s movies, it was made almost entirely on real locations. The ‘Action Aids’ office, where Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) gets a check-up at the opening of the movie, is 1216 Arch Street just east of City Hall, opposite the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
The office of the prestigious law firm, ‘Wyant, Wheeler, Hellerman, Tetlow and Brown’, where Beckett is initially a rising star, is that of Philly firm Mesirov, Gelman, Jaffe, Cramer and Jamieson (who donated their location fee to Aids charities), in the Mellon Bank Building, 1735 Market Street, west of City Hall.
A little to the south is the law office of Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), 1901 Chestnut Street on the corner of 19th Street. The pharmacy, where Miller’s homophobia is challenged by a gay law student, is the Pickwick Pharmacy, 1700 Market Street, directly opposite the Mellon Bank Building. Miller delivers a summons to law film boss Charles Wheeler (Jason Robards) during a ballgame at the Spectrum Sports Arena, Broad Street at Pattison Avenue, home of the Philadelphia Kixx soccer team.
The loft apartment of Beckett and his partner Miguel Alvarez (Antonio Banderas) is on 10th Street at Bainbridge Street, and also on Bainbridge Street is the Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen, 700 South 4th Street, where Miller shops after the birth of his daughter.
Beckett studies case law west of the city in the University of Pennsylvania Fine Arts Library, Walnut Street. The sauna, where Beckett’s coming out is thwarted by the partners’ laddish banter, is in the Raquet Club, 215 South 16th Street.
The court hearing scenes were filmed in Courtroom 243 of Philadelphia City Hall, Penn Square, at Broad and Market Streets. Beckett ultimately dies at Mount Sinai Hospital, 1401 South 5th Street at Reed Street, South Philadelphia.