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The Young Philadelphians

The Young Philadelphians

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The Young Philadelphians is a 1959 drama film starring Paul Newman
Paul Newman
Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

, Barbara Rush
Barbara Rush
Barbara Rush is an American stage, film, and television actress.-Career:A student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Barbara Rush performed on stage at the Pasadena Playhouse before signing with Paramount Pictures...

 and Alexis Smith
Alexis Smith
Alexis Smith was a Canadian-born stage, film, and television actress. She appeared in several major Hollywood movies in the 1940s and had a notable career on Broadway in the 1970s, winning a Tony Award in 1972.-Life and career:...

, and directed by Vincent Sherman
Vincent Sherman
Vincent Sherman was an American director, and actor, who worked in Hollywood. His movies include Mr. Skeffington , Nora Prentiss , and The Young Philadelphians ....

. Robert Vaughn
Robert Vaughn
Robert Francis Vaughn, , is an American actor noted for stage, film and television work. His best known roles include the suave spy Napoleon Solo in the 1960s television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., wealthy detective Harry Rule in the 1970s television series The Protectors, Albert Stroller in...

 was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

. The film is based on the novel The Philadelphian by Richard P. Powell
Richard P. Powell
Richard Pitts Powell was an American novelist.-Biography:Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Powell graduated from Princeton University in 1930 then worked at the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger newspaper. After ten years, he joined the advertising agency N. W. Ayer & Son. Following service...

.

Plot


Newlywed Kate Judson Lawrence (Diane Brewster
Diane Brewster
Diane Brewster was an American television actress most noted for playing three distinctively different roles in US TV series of the 1950s and 60s: confidence trickster Samantha Crawford in Maverick; pretty young second-grade teacher Miss Canfield in Leave It to Beaver; and doomed wife Helen...

) is distraught to discover on her wedding night that her upper class Philadelphia Main Line husband, William Lawrence III (Adam West
Adam West
William West Anderson , better known by the stage name Adam West, is an American actor best known for his lead role in the Batman TV series and the film of the same name...

), is impotent. After he leaves her on that night, she seeks comfort from longtime working class friend Mike Flanagan (Brian Keith
Brian Keith
Brian Keith was an American film, television, and stage actor who in his four decade-long career gained recognition for his work in movies such as the 1961 Disney family film The Parent Trap, the 1966 comedy The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, and the 1975 adventure saga The Wind and...

). The next day, Kate learns that William died in a car wreck. She gives birth to a son, Anthony Judson "Tony" Lawrence, and raises him in genteel poverty. Years pass. Tony (Paul Newman) is an ambitious, smart college student, working his way through school as a construction worker with his sights on becoming a lawyer. One day, he encounters socialite Joan Dickinson (Barbara Rush) when she has a minor car accident. They soon fall in love, though Joan is expected by nearly everyone in her lofty social circle to marry millionaire Carter Henry (Anthony Eisley
Anthony Eisley
Anthony Eisley was born Frederick Glendinning Eisley in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, whose father was a general sales manager for a large corporation. Father of Amanda Eisley, Jonathan Eisley, Nan R...

). Their mutual friend, Chester "Chet" Gwynn (Robert Vaughn
Robert Vaughn
Robert Francis Vaughn, , is an American actor noted for stage, film and television work. His best known roles include the suave spy Napoleon Solo in the 1960s television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., wealthy detective Harry Rule in the 1970s television series The Protectors, Albert Stroller in...

) warns her not to let social pressure separate her from the one she loves, as it did him.

When Tony asks her to elope with him, she agrees. However, Joan's father Gilbert Dickinson (John Williams
John Williams (actor)
John Williams was an English stage, film and television actor. He is remembered for his role as chief inspector Hubbard in Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M For Murder, and as portraying the second "Mr...

) persuades Tony to postpone the wedding until next June by offering him invaluable career help and a job at the highly esteemed law firm of which he is a full partner. Believing Tony has allowed himself to be bought, a disillusioned Joan sails to Europe. When Carter follows her, she marries him. Devastated and angry, Tony realizes that Joan's father wanted her to marry into another wealthy family, and only offered Tony help with his career in the hope of breaking them up. Tony then devotes himself to working his way up the social ladder and learning the game of the wealthy.

Fellow student Louis Donetti (Paul Picerni
Paul Picerni
-Life and career:Picerni was born in New York City, New York. He was an Eagle Scout who joined the United States Army Air Forces during World War II, where he served as a B-24 Liberator bombardier in the China-Burma-India Theater. He flew 25 combat missions with the 493rd Bomb Squadron of the 7th...

) tells Tony about a wonderful opportunity he has to assist John Marshall Wharton (Otto Kruger
Otto Kruger
Otto Kruger was an American actor who began his career in 1915. His career was most prolific during the 1930s and 1940s.-Career:...

) in writing a law book. Tony becomes acquainted with Wharton's much younger wife Carol (Alexis Smith
Alexis Smith
Alexis Smith was a Canadian-born stage, film, and television actress. She appeared in several major Hollywood movies in the 1940s and had a notable career on Broadway in the 1970s, winning a Tony Award in 1972.-Life and career:...

) and steals the job from his classmate. Living and working at Wharton's mansion, Tony impresses his employer with his expertise, but Carol becomes attracted to him. She comes to his bedroom one night, but he cunningly defuses the dangerous situation. He asks her to divorce her husband and marry him, but she is unwilling to start over. Wharton offers Tony a job at his even more prestigious firm. Tony accepts, and decides to specialize in the relatively new area of tax law, where there is more opportunity for rapid advancement.
However, the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 breaks out. Tony serves as a JAG officer, but others are not as fortunate. Chet loses his arm in combat, and Carter Henry is killed.

When Tony returns to work, he gets a lucky break. Forced to work over the Christmas holiday, he is available when the very rich Mrs. J. Arthur Allen (Billie Burke
Billie Burke
Mary William Ethelbert Appleton "Billie" Burke was an American actress. She is primarily known to modern audiences as Glinda the Good Witch of the North in the musical film The Wizard of Oz. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as Emily Kilbourne in Merrily We Live...

) needs her will amended. With his specialized knowledge, he shows her how to avoid paying a great deal of taxes. Mrs. Allen responds by designating Tony to manage her finances instead of her longtime lawyer, Gilbert Dickinson. Tony also begins mending his relationship with Joan. Success after success follows, and Tony becomes well known and respected by the Philadelphia elite.

One night, Chet resurfaces. Tony is called to the police station to pick up his disheveled, drunken friend. However, before they can leave, Donetti (now a public prosecutor) has Chet taken into custody and charged with the first degree murder of Morton Stearnes (Robert Douglas
Robert Douglas (actor)
Robert Douglas was born as Robert Douglas Finlayson in Fenny Stratford, Buckinghamshire. He was a successful stage and film actor, a television director and producer....

), Chet's uncle and tight-fisted guardian of his inheritance. Chet insists on Tony defending him, fearing that his relatives, particularly family patriarch Dr. Shippen Stearnes (Frank Conroy
Frank Conroy (actor)
Frank Parish Conroy was a British film and stage actor who appeared in many movies, notably The Little Minister, The Ox-Bow Incident, All My Sons, The Threat, The Royal Family of Broadway, The Young Philadelphians and The Day the Earth Stood Still...

), are more interested in avoiding a scandal than proving his innocence. Despite having no experience with criminal law, Tony reluctantly agrees. His work is further complicated when Shippen Stearnes threatens to reveal that Tony's real father is Mike Flanagan if Tony embarrasses the Stearnes clan. When Joan offers to hire a reliable attorney, Tony realizes that she still does not trust him and fears that he has sold out once again.

At the trial, Tony discredits the testimony of Morton Stearnes' butler, George Archibald (Richard Deacon
Richard Deacon (actor)
Richard Deacon , born in Philadelphia, was an American television and motion picture actor.-Career:The bald and usually bespectacled character actor often portrayed pompous or imperious figures. He made appearances on The Jack Benny Show as a salesman and a barber, and on NBC's Happy as a hotel...

). He gets Shippen to admit that Morton had a brain tumor and was mentally depressed, and that he might have committed suicide. The jury finds Chet not guilty. After the trial, Tony and Joan reconcile.

Cast

  • Paul Newman
    Paul Newman
    Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

     as Anthony "Tony" Judson Lawrence / Narrator
  • Barbara Rush
    Barbara Rush
    Barbara Rush is an American stage, film, and television actress.-Career:A student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Barbara Rush performed on stage at the Pasadena Playhouse before signing with Paramount Pictures...

     as Joan Dickinson
  • Alexis Smith
    Alexis Smith
    Alexis Smith was a Canadian-born stage, film, and television actress. She appeared in several major Hollywood movies in the 1940s and had a notable career on Broadway in the 1970s, winning a Tony Award in 1972.-Life and career:...

     as Carol Wharton
  • Brian Keith
    Brian Keith
    Brian Keith was an American film, television, and stage actor who in his four decade-long career gained recognition for his work in movies such as the 1961 Disney family film The Parent Trap, the 1966 comedy The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, and the 1975 adventure saga The Wind and...

     as Mike Flanagan
  • Diane Brewster
    Diane Brewster
    Diane Brewster was an American television actress most noted for playing three distinctively different roles in US TV series of the 1950s and 60s: confidence trickster Samantha Crawford in Maverick; pretty young second-grade teacher Miss Canfield in Leave It to Beaver; and doomed wife Helen...

     as Kate Judson Lawrence
  • Billie Burke
    Billie Burke
    Mary William Ethelbert Appleton "Billie" Burke was an American actress. She is primarily known to modern audiences as Glinda the Good Witch of the North in the musical film The Wizard of Oz. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as Emily Kilbourne in Merrily We Live...

     as Mrs. J. Arthur Allen, Owner Allen Oil Co.
  • John Williams
    John Williams (actor)
    John Williams was an English stage, film and television actor. He is remembered for his role as chief inspector Hubbard in Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M For Murder, and as portraying the second "Mr...

     as Gilbert Dickinson
  • Robert Vaughn
    Robert Vaughn
    Robert Francis Vaughn, , is an American actor noted for stage, film and television work. His best known roles include the suave spy Napoleon Solo in the 1960s television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., wealthy detective Harry Rule in the 1970s television series The Protectors, Albert Stroller in...

     as Chester A. "Chet" Gwynn
  • Otto Kruger
    Otto Kruger
    Otto Kruger was an American actor who began his career in 1915. His career was most prolific during the 1930s and 1940s.-Career:...

     as John Marshall Wharton, Partner at the law firm of Wharton Biddle Clayton
  • Paul Picerni
    Paul Picerni
    -Life and career:Picerni was born in New York City, New York. He was an Eagle Scout who joined the United States Army Air Forces during World War II, where he served as a B-24 Liberator bombardier in the China-Burma-India Theater. He flew 25 combat missions with the 493rd Bomb Squadron of the 7th...

     as Louis Donetti
  • Robert Douglas
    Robert Douglas (actor)
    Robert Douglas was born as Robert Douglas Finlayson in Fenny Stratford, Buckinghamshire. He was a successful stage and film actor, a television director and producer....

     as Morton Stearnes
  • Frank Conroy
    Frank Conroy (actor)
    Frank Parish Conroy was a British film and stage actor who appeared in many movies, notably The Little Minister, The Ox-Bow Incident, All My Sons, The Threat, The Royal Family of Broadway, The Young Philadelphians and The Day the Earth Stood Still...

     as Dr. Shippen Stearnes
  • Adam West
    Adam West
    William West Anderson , better known by the stage name Adam West, is an American actor best known for his lead role in the Batman TV series and the film of the same name...

     as William Lawrence III
  • Anthony Eisley
    Anthony Eisley
    Anthony Eisley was born Frederick Glendinning Eisley in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, whose father was a general sales manager for a large corporation. Father of Amanda Eisley, Jonathan Eisley, Nan R...

     as Carter Henry
  • Richard Deacon
    Richard Deacon (actor)
    Richard Deacon , born in Philadelphia, was an American television and motion picture actor.-Career:The bald and usually bespectacled character actor often portrayed pompous or imperious figures. He made appearances on The Jack Benny Show as a salesman and a barber, and on NBC's Happy as a hotel...

    as George Archibald