The Cat's Meow
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A bunch of Hollywood glitterati arrive at a boat belonging to William Randolph Hearst, a rather obnoxious Hollywood mogul. Also on the boat is Marion Davies, Hearst's actress mistress, who is being actively pursued by Charlie Chaplin (who recently got his sixteen-year-old costar pregnant), a cool-and-calm eccentric novelist Elinor Glyn, irritating columnist Louella Parsons, fading superproducer Thomas Ince and his frustrated girlfriend, and a slew of others. Rumors fly about Marion and Charlie's suspected affair, and though Hearst doesn't want to believe it, the clues pile up -- with the assistance of Ince, who wants Hearst to be his business partner. A single gunshot threatens all of them...
This is one of the movies that probably won't appeal to the average viewer, simply because a lot of the people in it, with a few exceptions like Chaplin and Davies, are not now remembered clearly. But if viewers can shut off their "hey, I don't know who that was" signals, then they will find a sort of whodunnit without the detective, a juicy soap wrapped up in a mystery wrapped up in a "Hollywood what-if" tale. Perhaps the biggest problem is that the last part is a bit anticlimactic and the buildup is rather insubstantial -- the biggest buildup is Hearst tearing through the boat in search of Chaplin.Read more ›
Peter Bogdanovich tells this particular Hollywood scandal in a convincing manner as the story is focused on the love triangle between Hearst, Davies, and Chaplin. The other characters add a lot of intrigue and color to the film as they all have their own motives for being on the yacht. The cast performances are solid and the mise-en-scene elevates the cinematic experience. However, the film never reaches it full potential as similar stories have done in the past where a murder is committed in a remote location. This hurt the integrity of the overall cinematic experience, but the film still offers the audience a good cinematic experience.
The trip is really a pleasure cruise for Hearst (played very well by Edward Herrmann), Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst), and a few of Hollywood's elite. The main focus for the group is trying to keep up with the seemingly imminent love affair between Davies and the devilish Charlie Chaplin (wickedly played by Eddie Izzard) Chaplin has just gotten his 16 year old co star pregnant and now has designs on Davies. She resists for a while, but eventually falls prey to his charms.
The film is an interesting character study. Herrmann shows us a Hearst who despite his riches, realizes that he is much older and less attractive than the wolves who are pursuing his girl. One particularly sad scene is when the band strikes up the Charleston, and Hearst is able to participate only for a few seconds before sitting the rest out. He watches as Marion has a blast with Charlie and the others on the floor.
Ince(played by Cary Elwes) spends the movie hooking up with his mistress and trying to gain information about other people to benefit himself. He was a powerful name in the movies at one time, and now is trying to get back to where he was. He snoops in rooms looking for information, and when he has put the pieces together, disaster strikes in the form of a gun shot.
What is interesting is Hearst's reaction to the shooting of Ince.Read more ›
We'll never truly know, but the film is a peppy cavalcade of big name stars playing big name stars. It's a character-heavy motion picture so let's discuss the impersonations.
Dunst is the flavour of the month, she makes Davies look like an attractively complex figure. While reflecting the verve of a young privileged woman at an exciting time, she maintains a moral core without really being certain of precisely what she wants, which rings true.
The flamboyant Eddie Izzard was a surprise in the cast but made an atypically understated Chaplin. You see the intelligence and yearning in his eyes, the sly wit dripping from his casual tilts of the head.
Personally, I felt these two were the only admirable actors in the film. The rest of the crew members acted as though they were in a much dopier movie. Herrmann for instance plays Hearst, the big tycoon, as a buffoon channeled through Bill Murray, huffing and puffing when he feels betrayed, grinning goofily and almost cross-eyed when he appears giddy.
The film overall is a very watchable one though, particularly if you can overlook a needlessly sepia tone across the board giving a pseudo-noir look. The idea clearly was less to weave a murder mystery yarn and more to splice together the interactions among people at the scene of a high-society and thus hush-hush crime.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great Movie. Our family sat down and watched it together, everyone enjoyed it.Published 3 months ago by Sy-fy Guy
This film was slow-moving for me. I didn't finish watching it.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is one of my all- time favorites.. seen it many times...Published 5 months ago by John H. Petersen