The Cemetery Club

The resourceful Bill Duke, best known in the past as an actor (Car Wash, American Gigolo) and as a director of black pictures (A Rage in Harlem, Deep Cover), turns his directorial hand toward Broadway-matinee white materiala comedy adapted by Ivan Menchell from his play about three Jewish widows in Pittsburgh (Ellen Burstyn, Olympia Dukakis, and Diane Ladd) who meet at their husbands’ graves. Duke’s sensitive handling of actors remains so acute that he and his able cast (which also includes Danny Aiello, Lainie Kazan, and Christina Ricci) periodically transcend their humdrum material. (Burstyn in particular is very strong, and when she embarks on a romance with a Jewish widower played by Aiello the movie moves into high gear.) It’s also worth noting that the Jewish milieu is adroitly and persuasively sketched in without being overplayed in the customary Broadway-matinee manner. (JR)

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