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Liberty Heights

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

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

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 neighbourhoods into the same classrooms. In this year, the dawning of rock and 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 the USA, allowing people the mobility and privacy to travel at will - to see things right in their own hometowns that were previously unknown to them. And in this year, the Kurtzman family (Adrien Brody as Van, Bebe Neuwirth as Ada, Joe Mantegna as Nate and Ben foster as Ben) develops a newly heightened understanding of what it means to be Jewish in a rapidly growing world.

The sign at the exclusive country club reads "No Jews, dogs or coloureds allowed", keeping Ben and his curious friends, Sheldon (Evan Neumann) and Murray (Gerry Rosenthal), on the other side of the fence because they're Jewish. Soon after, Ben's high school class integrates its first black student, a self-assured young lady named Sylvia (Rebekah Johnson). Ben is irresistibly attracted to her and, although Sylvia's father (James Pickens Junior), a doctor, forbids them to meet socially, the two become very close. Ben and Sylvia explore their religious, social and racial differences and begin to break down social rules and stereotypes.

Nate's burlesque business isn't what it used to be, so he and his partners, Louie (Charley Scalies), Charlie (Richard Kline) and Pete (Vincent Guastaferro), try to infuse extra revenue into their neighbourhood numbers racket by adding a bonus number to their system. Things go well until Little Melvin (Orlando Jones) a small-time black drug dealer, hits it big and the guys can't pay on the bet...

Theatrical propaganda posters

Liberty Heights image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film teen drama Baltimore 1950s Jew black racism

Persons of interest

  • 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
  • Vincent Guastaferro .... Pete
  • Justin Chambers .... Trey Tobelseted
  • Carolyn Murphy .... Dubbie the Blonde
  • James Pickens Jr .... Sylvia's Father
  • Frania Rubinek .... Rose
  • Anthony Anderson .... Scribbles
  • Kiersten Warren .... Annie the Stripper
  • Evan Neumann .... Sheldon
  • Kevin Sussman .... Alan Joseph Zuckerman
  • Barry Levinson .... Screenwriter
  • Barry Levinson .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Oy vey! It's a Zionist conspiracy!

You were aware, weren't you, that for the whole history of Hollywood, almost all the studios have been owned by Jews? Think about it: Goldwyn, Meyer, Disney, Warner... and those are just the ones with their names above the door. Until Sony's purchase of Sony Pictures Releasing, the Jewry were kings of the silver screen, so it's no big surprise that Hollywood hasn't produced many films in which Jews were the bad guys. Can you name one? Told you it was a conspiracy.

Meanwhile, Barry has created another one of those coming of age flicks like American pie, where middle class American teen boys learn about sex and the real world but not necessarily in that order. What separates these two films is that the latter is a comedy and played for all the laughs it can get while Liberty Heights is a drama involving some very funny, very touching and very enlightening moments.

Ben has all the sensitivity of Brad Renfro in Apt pupil, he's sexy, charming, innocent, aware and completely human. Carrying the film on his shoulders is no trial. Rebekah is sex in bobby socks, smart and sassy as only an oppressed minority can be. The other actors fill their roles in the supporting stories just fine, but it's these two that really make Liberty Heights worth watching.

I award seven bonus points for the first non-pornographic, on-screen male orgasm involving ejaculation and semen. It's subtly done or it would never have gotten past the censors, but it's the first step in a long journey toward cinematic enlightenment.

cf. Inventing the Abbotts.


Security censorship classification

M (Adult themes, sexual reference, low level coarse language)

Surveillance time

123 minutes (2:03 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

VHS rental: 18 April 2001

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