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The Young and the Dead

A straightforward documentary about the young team that recently took over the venerable Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery, the resting place for such movie greats as Florence Lawrence (said to have been the first movie star), Rudolph Valentino, Janet Gaynor, Tyrone Power, Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks and Paul Muni. In a rundown and bankrupt state under previous owner, Jules Roth, who refused to allow minorities, including Oscar-winner Hattie McDaniel, to be buried there, the new owners, led by 28-year-old Tyler Cassity, are profiled in a pic that will mean more to Hollywood insiders than to anyone else.

A straightforward documentary about the young team that recently took over the venerable Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery, the resting place for such movie greats as Florence Lawrence (said to have been the first movie star), Rudolph Valentino, Janet Gaynor, Tyrone Power, Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks and Paul Muni. In a rundown and bankrupt state under previous owner, Jules Roth, who refused to allow minorities, including Oscar-winner Hattie McDaniel, to be buried there, the new owners, led by 28-year-old Tyler Cassity, are profiled in a pic that will mean more to Hollywood insiders than to anyone else.

The affable Cassity and his youthful team are bringing the cemetery into the digital age via mini video bios of stars buried there as well as other techno advances. Material that would have been ideal fodder for a quirky filmmaker like Errol Morris is given a largely uncritical approach. Highlight of the technically well made film is the re-internment of McDaniel almost 50 years after her death in 1952, a ceremony attended by a man who claims to have been the baby the actress nursed in “Gone With the Wind.”

The Young and the Dead

Production: A Tail Slate Pictures production. Produced by Ellin Baumel. Executive producer, Sheila Nevins. Co-producer, Julia King. Directed by Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini.

Crew: Camera (color), Michael Barrow, Sandra Chandler; editor, Robert Pulcini; music, Mark Suozzo. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (New Territories), Sept. 7, 2000. Running time: 93 MIN.

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