Liberty Heights (1999)

R  |   |  Drama, Music, Romance  |  31 December 1999 (USA)
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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 »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlie, Nate's Assistant
Pete, Nate's Assistant
Frania Rubinek ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


Drama | Music | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



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Release Date:

31 December 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dometi slobode  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$95,247 (USA) (19 November 1999)


$3,732,398 (USA) (31 March 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the scene where they are teeing off at the 'golf course', they are actually standing on the lawn in front of the Mansion House in Baltimore's Druid Hill Park. The Mansion House is the current day administrative offices for the Baltimore Zoo. There is no real golf course in Druid Hill Park. See more »


James Brown in 1954/55 was not a headliner, and he didn't record and release "Please Please Please" with a great deal of planning - it was cut with a single mike in a very haphazard way. See more »


Guy: So where are you from?
Alan Joseph Zuckerman: Forest Park.
Guy: [surprised] Forest Park?
Alan Joseph Zuckerman: Yeah, off Liberty Heights.
Guy: That's, uh, Jewish, right?
Alan Joseph Zuckerman: [nervous pause] Damn near, yeah... Seems, uh, more's moving in too, y'know? So it's really... it's really getting that way.
See more »


Features Your Show of Shows (1950) See more »


Stranger in Paradise
Written by Bob Wright (as Robert Wright) & Chet Forrest (as George Forrest)
Performed by Tony Bennett
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Barry Levinson's Funny, Poignant Look at Changing Times in an Era That Needed Change!
15 June 2004 | by (Whitehall, PA) – See all my reviews

LIBERTY HEIGHTS (LH) is a fine addition to writer/director Barry Levinson's series of nostalgic autobiographical Baltimore-set films. This episodic but heartfelt comedy-drama, set in the mid-1950s, stars Adrien Brody and Ben Foster as brothers Van and Ben Kurtzman, who come of age while grappling with anti-Semitism, their loving dad's (Joe Mantegna) shady business dealings (he runs both a burlesque house and a low-profile numbers racket. My late dad, a bookie, would've loved this guy! :-), racism (Ben and his pretty black classmate Sylvia, appealingly played by Rebekah Johnson, start seeing each other on the sly), and classism (Van falls hard for blonde WASP dream girl Dubbie, who turns out to be a nightmare -- a tragic figure, in fact -- but is capably played by supermodel Carolyn Murphy in her first and, to date, only film role that I know of). While LH isn't quite as sharp and knowing as Levinson's modern classic DINER (with which LH would make an interesting double feature; the DVD includes the DINER trailer, by the way), it's rendered with great affection and attention to detail about the characters, their world, and the changing times they're living in. For me, the wittier moments really made the film -- Ben's anarchic streak livens things up, to say the least! Best Ben moments: 1) his scandalizing his family by dressing as Hitler on Halloween; 2) the act of defiance he and his friends eventually pull at the "NO JEWS..." pool; and 3) the tender yet chaste kiss he gives Sylvia at graduation, freaking out both sets of parents. LH is worth a rental, at the very least!

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