Director Barry Levinson presents two parts of his "Baltimore trilogy" in this double feature, including:
DINER: Barry Levinson's (TIN MEN, AVALON) directorial debut chronicles the relationships between a group of friends living in Baltimore in 1959. The uniting factor for this group is their fear of growing up. They spend hour after hour in the local greasy-spoon diner, joking, boasting, bragging, and ultimately escaping reality. Ladies' man Boogie (Mickey Rourke), a hairdresser by day and law student by night, is also in over his head with the local bookie. Momma's boy Eddie (Steve Guttenberg) is about to get married--but only if his fiance passes a football trivia test. Shrevie (Daniel Stern) is married to Beth (Ellen Barkin) but is more comfortable hanging out with his friends and organizing his record collection. Graduate student Billy (Timothy Daly) is trying to sort out his own love life. And Fenwick (Kevin Bacon) is a poor little rich boy with a warped sense of humor and no direction. Paul Reiser rounds out the group as the nagging but funny Modell.
LIBERTY HEIGHTS: Returning once again to the Baltimore of his youth, director Barry Levinson adds another installment to his Baltimore Trilogy (DINER, TIN MEN, AVALON), tackling the emotionally charged subjects of anti-Semitism and racism--in addition to his standard themes of family, friendship, and loyalty--in LIBERTY HEIGHTS. In 1954, Ben Kurtzman (Ben Foster), a Jewish teen from Baltimore, is intrigued by the new girl in his class. The problem? Sylvia (Rebekah Johnson) is one of the first African American students to attend his school. While Ben and Sylvia pursue a forbidden friendship in the early days of desegregation, Ben's older brother, Van (Adrien Brody), is smitten with Dubbie (Carolyn Murphy), a beautiful wealthy WASP who may as well live in another world. As the Kurtzman brothers struggle with their budding relationships and new cultures, their father, Nate (Joe Mantegna), is busy dealing with his own problems. His failing burlesque show is a front for running numbers, and he owes a huge payout to Little Melvin, a small-time African American drug dealer who is certain that Nate is trying to stiff him because of the color of his skin. Levinson once again employs a subtly entertaining visual style that allows the terrific dialogue and serious story lines to play out with realism and depth.