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 ...
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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 »
Movie was set in 1954 yet there is a 1957 Buick parked outside the synagogue. See more »
This movie is sort of like the concept of the TV show Seinfeld-- it's about nothing. By this I don't mean that it lacks substance, in fact, it has plenty, but I mean rather that it does not involve an intense plot line. It's more like a series of snapshots taken out of one family's album, like a brief recording of one year in their lives. It's as if these people were real, simply going about their lives in their times, and we got to peek in on them, and it is acted in just that way. I think it's very true to director Barry Levinson's vision, a vision that is clear upon viewing his other films that he includes with Liberty Heights as his "Baltimore" films. These include Diner, Avalon, and Tin Men. Because this is not the typical problem arises-conflict ensues-climax is reached-conclusion is found film, Levinson shows us that these people's lives were a series of ups and downs, joys and losses, that summarize American middle-class youth in all ages in history. There connections between the different walks of life and the idea of growing up and discovering diversity around you is what makes this film universal and beautiful, all without handing you morals and themes on a silver platter. This film takes a wonderfully objective viewpoint that allows you to make meaning of it rather than spelling it out for you.
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