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Liberty Heights (1999)

0:31 | Trailer
Baltimore, Fall 1954: Schools implement the new integration law. Ben finds the "colored" girl in his class cute - upsetting his Jewish mom and granny. Ben talks to her while his brother looks for his WASP dream girl.


Barry Levinson


Barry Levinson
2 nominations. See more awards »





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


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


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


Comedy | Drama | Music | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


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 »


During the part of the film which was set in October/November, 1954, the trees had way too many green leaves on them for Baltimore at that time of the year. See more »


Dubbie the Blonde: Do you speak french?
Van Kurtzman: No. Do you?
Dubbie the Blonde: Yes. Not as well as my father's boyfriend. But then again, he is French.
See more »

Alternate Versions

DVD release has a "music-only" version of the film with no dialogue and only music and score. See more »


Features Strangers on a Train (1951) See more »


Ritmando El Cha Cha Cha
Written by Bebo Valdés (as Bebo Valdes)
Performed by Orquesta Riverside
Courtesy of EGREM Records
Under license from Milan Entertainment Inc.
See more »

User Reviews

A quiet, poetic coda to the Baltimore saga
29 August 2001 | by guiricinefiloSee all my reviews

While hardly the gems that are Diner, and especially Avalon, Levinson here offers another sweet meditation on his Baltimore roots. The love story between Ben and Sylvia is especially moving to every white boy who ever fell in love with a black girl before it was acceptable, and most of the credit goes to the enchanting Rebekah Johnson. Older brother Van's travels in WASPland are more cliche-ridden, though one must salute the acting of Adrien Brody and his friend Trey, who actually make their unlikely friendship believable. Trey's deb girlfriend is pure cardboard. The real standouts here are Joe Mantegna and Orlando Jones going toe-to-toe in dangerously caricaturish territory. Both manage to pull it off. One anachronistic comment- Scribbles calls one of Nick's men the Pillsbury Jewboy--far as I know that advertising icon didn't appear till 10 years after the film's 1954-55 setting. Again, no one will call this film a classic, but seen as part of a 4 film whole (Tin Men is more the aberration than Liberty Heights) it stands proudly and pulls at these 40 year old heartstrings from a very similar North Bronx background.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

Warner Bros




English | German | Yiddish

Release Date:

31 December 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Liberty Heights See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$95,247, 21 November 1999

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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