7.1/10
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64 user 65 critic

Liberty Heights (1999)

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Anti-Semitism, race relations, coming of age, and fathers and sons: in Baltimore from fall, 1954, to fall, 1955. Racial integration comes to the high school, TV is killing burlesque, and ... See full summary »

Director:

Barry Levinson

Writer:

Barry Levinson
2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Adrien Brody ... Van Kurtzman
Ben Foster ... Ben Kurtzman
Orlando Jones ... Little Melvin
Bebe Neuwirth ... Ada Kurtzman
Joe Mantegna ... Nate Kurtzman
Rebekah Johnson ... Sylvia
David Krumholtz ... Yussel
Richard Kline ... Charlie, Nate's Assistant
Vincent Guastaferro ... Pete, Nate's Assistant
Justin Chambers ... Trey Tobelseted
Carolyn Murphy ... Dubbie the Blonde
James Pickens Jr. ... Sylvia's Father
Frania Rubinek Frania Rubinek ... Grandma Rose
Anthony Anderson ... Scribbles
Kiersten Warren ... Annie the Stripper
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Storyline

Anti-Semitism, race relations, coming of age, and fathers and sons: in Baltimore from fall, 1954, to fall, 1955. Racial integration comes to the high school, TV is killing burlesque, and rock and roll is pushing the Four Lads off the Hit Parade. Ben, a high school senior, and his older brother Van are exploring "the other": in Ben's case, it's friendship with Sylvia, a Black student; with Van, it's a party in the WASP part of town and falling for a debutante, Dubbie. Sylvia gives Ben tickets to a James Brown concert; Dubbie invites Van to a motel: new worlds open. Meanwhile, their dad Nate, who runs a numbers game, loses big to a small-time pusher, Little Melvin; a partnership ensues. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

You're only young once, but you remember forever.

Genres:

Drama | Music | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for crude language and sex-related material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Warner Bros

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Yiddish

Release Date:

31 December 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dometi slobode See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$95,247, 21 November 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,732,398, 2 April 2000
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Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Barry Levinson: [Ralph Tabakin] (Phil, Spotlight Man at the Gaitey) has appeared in every Levinson picture from Diner (1982) to Liberty Heights (1999). See more »

Goofs

On Halloween 1954 Adrien Brody's character states that he is dressing as a beatnik. The word "beatnik" was coined by Herb Caen in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 2, 1958. See more »

Quotes

Ben Kurtzman: [voice-over at the end] Life is made up of a few big moments, and a lot of little ones. I still remember the first time I kissed Sylvia, or the last time I hugged my father before he died. And I still remember that white-bread sandwich and that blonde dancing girl with the cigarette pack on her thigh. But a lot of images fade, and no matter how hard I try, I can't get them back. I had a relative once who said that if I knew things would no longer be, I would have tried to remember better.
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Alternate Versions

DVD release has a "music-only" version of the film with no dialogue and only music and score. See more »

Connections

References Marty (1955) See more »

Soundtracks

Young at Heart
Written by Johnny Richards & Carolyn Leigh
Performed by Frank Sinatra
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

I am neither Jewish nor Baltimorian (?), but . . .
4 July 2003 | by gmr-4See all my reviews

this was a fine film, if not anything to blow one's hair back, leave one humming, or slipping into the dialogue. The story was set in the mid-1950s, accurately looks the part, and is actually three tales involving the three males in a middle class family.

Yes, there is the treatment of racism and the self-consciousness that it spawns on both sides, and yes, the death throes of anti-semitism (at least among decent people). A middle-aged man finds he has outlived the world in which he came to prosper, and does not know what to do. There is something else: the "grass is always greener" hypothesis in ethnic/social class mixing. One of the protagonists meets his "shiksa goddess" and her lot, longs to cross a divide he does his best to bridge -- and finds his betters have feet of clay for all their poise and social standing.

LIBERTY HEIGHTS is in the best sense a North American story. Leaving one's ghetto, the benefits of learning to do so, and creation of a better world. Note how toward the end, the flawed and even cruel W.A.S.P. society boy becomes better for having accepted the hand of friendship of someone his father might have avoided.


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