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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
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Carolyn Murphy. See more »

Goofs

When the boys wander through Mt. Vernon Place, a large metal green sign (normally bearing tourist information) is clearly visible. These signs were not erected until the early 1990s. See more »

Quotes

Ada Kurtzman: [about Ben's Halloween costume dressed as Hitler] Your father says you're not going out dressed that way.
Ben Kurtzman: And I'm not changing.
Ada Kurtzman: He says he's not changing.
Nate Kurtzman: I wanna talk to Hitler.
Ada Kurtzman: He has a swastika on his arm and big black boots! He's wearing big black boots! He came down the stairs in them with swastikas all over!
Nate Kurtzman: Put the Führer on the phone!
Ada Kurtzman: Your father wants to talk to you. Sorry!
Ben Kurtzman: [to his friends] You guys can go without me. Yeah, I'm having Halloween here.
See more »

Connections

Features Strangers on a Train (1951) See more »

Soundtracks

Shake Rattle and Roll
Written by Charles F. Calhoun (as Charles Calhoun)
Performed by Big Joe Turner
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Liberty Heights an unassuming gem.
11 December 1999 | by rejoefrankelSee all my reviews

Barry Levinson's LIBERTY HEIGHTS begins telling it's story through a variety of different viewpoints, and at the outset may give off the vibe of being somewhat unfocussed, but do not be misled by the elusive opening! Although unexceptional in terms of it's standard coming of age plotline, as the film progresses it becomes increasingly thoughtful and observant. It is the small details that make LIBERTY HEIGHTS seem so rich--and I wouldn't dream of giving any of them away--but needless to say, by the end of the film anyone who remembers their childhood fondly is bound to leave the theatre with a smile on their face. In a quiet and unassuming way, the movie manages to throw out many messages to its audience. Every single subplot in the film relates back to the family. Joe Mantegna plays the racketeering patriarch of a nice uppper-middle class Jewish family that resembles a lighter version of the Corleone's in THE GODFATHER. One of the sons falls for a Catholic girl, while the other pursues the black daughter of a prominent city doctor. They all live with their grandmother who is blinded to the "gentiles" by the Holocaust. The relationships between the youngsters naturally conflict with the views of their parents, and they are forced to form their own opinions on racial boundaries.

What is so refreshing about LIBERTY HEIGHTS is that it doesn't pull obvious punches or go for the cheap thrills that more sensationalized Hollywood films normally would. Not even in a subplot with an eccentric drug dealer do the characters resort to violence as might be expected with this sort of material. The characters in LIBERTY HEIGHTS are just ordinary people in relatively ordinary situations. It is not a fast paced film, some may find the midsection to be a little over-inflated. Personally I enjoyed the film a great deal. It grew on me to the point that by the end I was drawn to tears. Even fully aware of its old fashioned Hollywood corniness the movie touched a nerve with me. I found the performances very moving--in particular that of young Ben Foster, who we should exepect to see again in the near future. Adrien Brody is appealing and sympathetic as the eldest son. Bebe Neuwirth manages to create some interesting moments in her role as matriarch of the Kurtzman family--particularly in the final scene. LIBERTY HEIGHTS is not a perfect film to be sure, but in a season with a shortage of intelligent family oriented films LIBERTY HEIGHTS is a solid bet.


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