Philadelphia Movie-The Real Story
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.
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.