Liberty Heights. 1999. USA. Written and directed by Barry Levinson. With Adrien Brody, Joe Mantegna, Bebe Neuwirth. 35mm. 127 min.
Ben Kurtzman wants to go swimming in 1954 Baltimore—but a sign bars Jews, African Americans, and dogs from enjoying a refreshing dip. None of it makes sense to Ben, who lives in a predominantly Jewish enclave in Liberty Heights. Ben develops a crush on Sylvia, a classmate whose presence at his school is a direct result of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. His older brother Van is also attracted to an “off limits” girl, in his case a country club “deb.” Ben is a thinly veiled Barry Levinson substitute, giving us a nostalgic insight into the filmmaker’s formative years.