Rock Hudson, a beloved and accomplished romantic actor of the 50’s and 60’s was one of the first Hollywood actors to die of AIDS, and his diagnosis occurred at the same time as the revelation of AIDS itself. Hudson closeted his sexuality, and it is debatable how this could have affected his roles in his melodramas, particularly the way he acted towards women. Hiding sexuality is a big theme in Philadelphia, and the narrative itself does a very good job of that.
Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) is a young attorney in a law firm; his sexuality is never apparent, Demme avoids shots of a sexual nature with Beckett’s boyfriend Miguel (Antonio Banderas), but this can also be due to constrained content regulations of the time. Beckett receives a promotion, but is soon fired due to the loss of some important paperwork, which is not the real excuse, and the audience presume as well as Beckett that he was fired because of his AIDS. The audience are never informed that Beckett has AIDS, we only become aware over time and his physical appearance. Lesions appear on Beckett’s face – the make-up is beyond stunning, and this is the beginning test of the audience’s loyalty to Hanks’ character. Beckett seeks a lawyer to help him in suing the company, however none comply, and he is rejected by Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), a homophobe who reacts by backing away from Beckett.
The responses by Washington’s character when he discovers Beckett’s condition angered me personally; he brushes off his suit jacket and consults a doctor about catching it through skin-to-skin contact. Beckett’s boss