Liberty Heights is a 1999 American comedy-drama movie written and directed by Barry Levinson. The film is a semi-autobiographical account of his childhood growing up in Baltimore in the 1950s. Depicted are the racial oppressions experienced both by the Jewish and African-American populations. Both of Nate Kurtzman’s sons find women “restricted” to them; for Van due to the fact that he is Jewish, and for Ben because he is white. Their dad goes to jail for running a burlesque show with Little Melvin, an African-American and known local drug dealer.
It is the 4th of Levinson’s tetralogy “Baltimore Films”, embeded in his hometown during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s: Diner (1982 ), Tin Men (1987) and Avalon (1990 ).
In the fall of 1954, the Kurtzmans, a Jewish family, live in Forest Park, a rural neighborhood in northwest Baltimore. Nate, the father, runs a burlesque theater, and engages in a numbers racket. His spouse Ada is a homemaker. Van, the older child, attends the University of Baltimore, and Ben is in his senior year in high school.