The Young Philadelphians (1959) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Young Philadelphians (1959)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Young Philadelphians Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Something of an urbanized, upscale version of Peyton Place, 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 Batman 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.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Richard Powell, James Gunn, James Gunn
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 14, 2006
Warner Home Video - Official Site


Paul Newman
as Anthony Judson Lawre...
Barbara Rush
as Joan Dickinson
Alexis Smith
as Carol Wharton
Brian Keith
as Mike Flanagan
Diane Brewster
as Kate Judson
Billie Burke
as Mrs. J.A. Allen
John Williams (II)
as Gil Dickinson
Robert Vaughn
as Chet Gwynn
Otto Kruger
as John M. Wharton
Paul Picerni
as Louis Donetti
Robert Douglas
as Morton Stearnes
Frank Conroy
as Dr. Shippen Stearnes
Adam West
as William Lawrence
Anthony Eisley
as Carter Henry
Richard Deacon
as George Archibald
Isobel Elsom
as Mrs. Lawrence
John Williams
as Gil Dickinson
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Young Philadelphians

Critic Reviews for The Young Philadelphians

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (1)

The trials and tribulations of the rich, like those of the poor, can be undramatic.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Paul Newman gives a strong performance in Vincent Sherman's glossy melodrama about a young, cynical, ambitious man, born on the wrong side of the tracks but determined to change his lot.

Full Review… | November 26, 2008

Based on a very popular novel, the film is a competent but undistinguished adaptation that breathes only through the presence of its dynamic star.

Full Review… | June 17, 2008
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Smart drama featuring Paul Newman in early role.

July 6, 2006
Dispatch-Tribune Newspapers

Classy soapsuds with a cast that's better than the movie.

May 19, 2006
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Newman, by then established as a big star, might have chosen better than this over-two-hour-long soap opera.

Full Review… | May 24, 2003

Audience Reviews for The Young Philadelphians

A great cast, a great story, and great direction. It's a very interesting chronicle of early 50s mentality. You get to view it in two different forms, marriage and social classes. I think it's actually one of the first times the American lifestyle was threatened or criticized. Paul Newman is amazing as always and Barbara Rush was a great co-star. It's a beautiful looking film that puts as much effort into the film making process as the story.

Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer


slows a little towards the end but a fine film with a great small performance by Alexis Smith.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer


This might be the most enjoyable, interesting and intriguing Paul Newman movie I have ever seen. Sure, you have The Hustler, Butch Cassidy, The Sting etc, but this movie really had such a great story and outstanding actors and performances.

Sean Gillespie

Super Reviewer

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