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Liberty Heights (1999)



Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 46
Fresh: 40 | Rotten: 6

A moving film with moments of humor, Liberty Heights succeeds in capturing the feel of the '50s with great performances and sensitive direction.


Average Rating: 7.8/10
Critic Reviews: 11
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 0

A moving film with moments of humor, Liberty Heights succeeds in capturing the feel of the '50s with great performances and sensitive direction.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 5,350

My Rating

Movie Info

It is Baltimore in 1954 and everything is changing. In this year, school desegregation is happening for the first time, bringing black and white children from different neighborhoods into the same classrooms. In this year, the dawning of rock'n'roll is giving teenagers their first slice of a musical world that will become uniquely their own. In this year, the influx of automobiles becomes a powerful force in America, allowing people the mobility and privacy to travel at will--to see things right


Drama, Comedy

Barry Levinson

Jun 20, 2000

Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (65) | Top Critics (18) | Fresh (40) | Rotten (6) | DVD (9)

A grand slam!

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Liberty Heights is worth a look, with its rich characters and dialogue, and its gorgeous cinematography by Chris Doyle.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Excellent re-creation of the clothing and landmarks of Baltimore in the 1950s.

June 28, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

Coming to terms with "the other" (whether stranger, enemy, or alien) is as critical to the development of soul now as it was in the 1950s.

March 4, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Lovingly crafted.

January 1, 2000
Los Angeles Daily News

Nostalgia is a tricky thing, but Levinson manages to strike just the right balance of humor, affection, and candor.

January 1, 2000
New Times

A pretty brave and ambitious feat.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Citysearch

Writer-director Barry Levinson brings it all back home to Baltimore and delivers his funniest and most heartfelt film since Diner.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Both epic and intimate, taking on a large cast of characters while focusing quietly on the details of their lives.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Matinee Magazine
Matinee Magazine

The meandering focus of the script isn't quite as sharp as it should be, but there is nothing muddled about the warm feelings the film strongly evokes.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

A pleasure to behold.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Overall this movie just doesn't live up to its aims.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

A thoroughly grounded statement about the human condition.

January 1, 2000
Palo Alto Weekly

An attractive, albeit modest, addition to the Levinson collection.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Internet Reviews
Internet Reviews

A charming film, infused and emotionally heightened by the imagination of memory.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

With well-written characters and a humorous script, the entire cast shines.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: E! Online
E! Online

Audience Reviews for Liberty Heights

Ada Kurtzman: No, there the other kind.

Set in 1954 Baltimore, this is a coming of age story involving two Jewish boys, one in high school, one in college, both going after girls and dealing with the changing in times and issues of race, class, and religion.

Ben Foster is the younger of the two, he plays Ben Kurtzman. His story revolves around his attraction to a fellow black girl in his class. The two hit it off, but there are various obstacles in the way of them hanging out together.

Adrien Brody is the older brother, Van. He is basically the simplest character in the movie. All he wants to do is find a girl he met one night at a party, although this does provide the setup for a number of entertaining scenes involving he and his friends hanging in the "non-jewish" neighborhoods.

You also have their parents played by Bebe Neuwirth and Joe Mantegna. This plot is the least entertaining, mainly cause it drags in another character. Mantegna runs a burlesque house and an illegal numbers operation. He gets into some trouble when a lottery game they have going needs to pay off much more than they can. This part leads to a character played by Orlando Jones that really doesn't help the movie much, besides give way to some story developments.

Besides this character, the movie works very well. Foster is very good, as he is basically the main protagonist. Mantegna is just a cool guy in general, so he works. The chemistry between the friends is all very good.

Director Barry Levinson, who has made a number of comedy-dramas, knows how to keep things pretty balanced and entertaining. He also gets a number of 50s elements present and has some hints of satire.

The issues involving jews, blacks, and the rich white crowd are handled well enough, but this isn't a film about providing deep answers to these things or anything like that. It just serves as a setting.

The film takes that setting, and uses it to make a fine coming of age story.

Ben Kurtzman: In the event of a bombing, do you think this book will save my life?...First it was the Atom bomb, how its the hydrogen hydrogen is getting through this book.
February 23, 2008

Super Reviewer

Life for Jews and blacks in 1950's America. That sentence pretty much sums up the film. There's no plot, instead it's a character-lead film but sadly the characters are so cliched that the film ends up being supremely mediocre. Brody is good but has nothing to do, it's Foster who has the most interesting storyline - it's just a shame it's Romeo + Juliet all over again. This film really could have done with some darkness or a threat (there's a kidnapping but the tone is way too light) to give it some grit and substance.
June 5, 2009

Super Reviewer

A good movie!
May 31, 2007
Leo L

Super Reviewer

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

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