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 <>

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?


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 dubbed "The Blonde-Haired Gene Tierney" by Elle Magazine. She auditioned for the role after her agent encouraged her to do so and, unlike many other models turned actress, was praised for her work. See more »


The car driven through the pumpkins and crashing into the barn during the Halloween party sequence appears to be a 1960s Austin Healey. This car did not exist during the 50s period of the movie. See more »


[after Trey has crashed his car]
Ted: This is very unfortunate.
Trey Tobelseted: You know, it's obvious the smiling pumpkins distracted me.
See more »

Alternate Versions

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


References Samson and Delilah (1949) See more »


Stranger in Paradise
Written by Bob Wright (as Robert Wright) & Chet Forrest (as George Forrest)
Performed by Tony Bennett
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

User Reviews

Unexpectedly Great!
14 September 2011 | by southwest3210-156-400970See all my reviews

I saw all 4 of the so-called "Baltimore Quadrilogy" in sequence, and, while the first three were fantastic, Diner still rose to the top for me. It was the most real, most heartfelt, and most memorable. I put on LH thinking it would be "okay", and was shocked to see it just about right up there with Diner for all the same reasons. If you've seen Scorsese's "The Bronx Tale" with DeNiro, you might notice a resemblance, down to the "forbidden" teen interracial love plot. In Bronx Tale, the "mob" has a part, but with nothing terribly eventful. In both, the family and everyday storyline take precedence, as if the mob aspects were afterthoughts.

I can't say that the Jewish Mob background did LH justice, as Montagna just seemed too wishy-washy to be a front-line mobster. Montagna is a great actor, but I think he should have brought a little harder edge to the mob-orientated moments. He did fine as a father, though he could have had any occupation and the movie would not have been any the less for it. I strongly feel that if the movie did not have the mob element in it, and Montagna had a conventional occupation, the movie would have been perfect, and even more realistic than it was. The burlesque scenes again were a drag on what otherwise would have been a perfect "coming of age" film.

This movie comes very close to "Diner" quality, if not for the somewhat flawed "mob" subplots....well worth seeing though!

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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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