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The Young Philadelphians Details


Something of an urbanized, upscale version of , Vincent Sherman's The Young Philadelphians is a glossy adaptation of Richard Powell's bestselling novel The Philadelphians that revels in melodrama. The film opens strongly, with a lengthy 1924 prologue. Socialite Kate Lawrence (Diane Brewster) jilts impoverished lover Mike Flannagan (Brian Keith) in favor of wealthy William Lawrence (Adam West). On their wedding night, William drunkenly announces that he's impotent and commits suicide (this scene should fascinate fans). Returning to Mike, Kate has a child by him, Tony. The boy grows up amid an atmosphere of dire poverty, which imparts him with a relentless drive for success. Flash forward to 1952: the out-of-wedlock kid, Tony, has grown up (now played by Paul Newman) and still doesn't know that he was an illegitimate child. Tony attends Princeton Law School, and falls in love with rich girl Joan Dickinson (Barbara Rush). Via the doings of Joan's father, wealthy Gilbert Dickinson (John Williams), Tony ends up taking a cushy job in a law office, at the expense of the relationship. The heartbroken Joan marries Carter Henley (Fred Eisley) on the rebound, who is conveniently killed in Korea. Tony then begins spending a prodigious amount of time with Carol Wharton (Alexis Smith), wife of attorney John Wharton (Otto Kruger), so that she will persuade John to find Tony a better job. Soon it's Tony's turn to fight in Korea; when he returns, the opportunity arises for Tony to redeem himself for his past misdeeds. Watch for Richard "Mel Cooley" Deacon in a bit as a hostile witness. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:May 30, 1959


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Howard Shoup Best Black and White Costume Design 1959 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Robert Vaughn Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture 1959 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Robert Vaughn Best Supporting Actor 1959 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Harry Stradling Best Black and White Cinematography 1959 Nominee


Paul Newman
as Tony Lawrence
Barbara Rush
as Joan Dickinson
Alexis Smith
as Carol Wharton
Brian Keith
as Mike Flannagan
Diane Brewster
as Kate Lawrence
Billie Burke
as Mrs. J. Arthur Allen
Robert Vaughn
as Chester Gwynn
Otto Kruger
as John M. Wharton
Paul Picerni
as Louis Donetti
Robert Douglas
as Morton Stearnes
Frank Conroy
as Dr. Stearnes
Adam West
as William Lawrence
Richard Deacon
as George Archibald
Isobel Elsom
as Mrs. Lawrence


Vincent Sherman
Harry Stradling
Ray Heindorf
Musical Direction/Supervision
Ernest Gold
Composer (Music Score)
William H. Ziegler
John P. Austin
Set Designer
Howard Shoup
Costume Designer
William Kissell
First Assistant Director
Gordon Bau