7.1/10
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Liberty Heights (1999)

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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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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Details

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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)

Gross:

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

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Technical Specs

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(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Part of a series of films based Barry Levinson's family and friends from Baltimore. The other films are: Diner (1982), Tin Men (1987) and Avalon (1990). See more »

Goofs

Movie was set in 1954 yet there is a 1957 Buick parked outside the synagogue. See more »

Quotes

Ben Kurtzman: By the way, where's the jawbone of the ass?
Ada Kurtzman: What?
Ben Kurtzman: The jawbone of the ass, where is it?
Grandma Rose: Is he crazy? What kind of talk is this?
Van Kurtzman: [walks in] Your ass does not have a jawbone.
Ben Kurtzman: Well, Samson slew the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass!
Ada Kurtzman: Not your ass, an animal!
Ben Kurtzman: [shocked] There's an animal called an "ass"?
Grandma Rose: [frowning] Such a mouth...
Ben Kurtzman: Look, I loved 'Samson and Delilah'. I hope they bring that movie back.
[...]
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Connections

Features Strangers on a Train (1951) See more »

Soundtracks

If
Written by Stanley Damerell (as Stanley J. Damerell), Robert Hargreaves & Tolchard Evans
Performed by Louis Armstrong
Courtesy of GRP Records Inc.
Under license from Universal 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 (Lowell, Mich. U.S.A.) – See 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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