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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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
Director Barry Levinson wanted someone with a Grace Kelly appeal to play the role of Dubbie the Blonde. Model Carolyn Murphy was cast, although she was ironically dubbed "The Blond Haired Gene Tierney" by Elle. She auditioned for the role after her agent encouraged her to do so, and unlike many other models turned actresses, she was praised for her work. See more »
In Nate Kurtzman's office, Little Melvin refers to someone as the "Pillsbury Jew-boy," a slur obviously derived from the Pillsbury Doughboy. But Pillsbury's famous advertising icon didn't appear until 1965. See more »
In Baltimore, 1954, the Kurtzman family is a Jewish family living in the area of Liberty Heights. Ben (Ben Foster) is a rebel teenager, who has a crush on his black friend Sylvia (Rebekah Johnson). His college brother Van falls in love with Dubbie (Carolyn Murphy why this gorgeous actress has just this movie in her filmography?), a very problematic girl. He becomes friend of Trey Tobelseted (Justin Chambers), a young man from a very wealth family and boyfriend of Dubbie. Nate (the excellent Joe Mantegna) is the father, who lives from an illegal lottery of numbers. Nate loves his family and keeps them apart of his legal problems. Ada (Bebe Neuwirth) is the mother, who keeps the tradition of their family. Little Melvin (Orlando Jones) is a drug dealer, who wins a fortune of US$ 100,000 (in 1954) in Nate's lottery, raising a serious situation in the plot. This movie is wonderful: the soundtrack, photography and costumes are marvelous. The story, about segregation of Jews and blacks and love between races, is very beautiful. The viewer will not be disappointed with this entertainment. My vote is eight.
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