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The Cat's Meow 2002

PG-13 CC

From acclaimed director Peter Bogdanovich comes an extraordinary look at a fateful excursion aboard William Randolph Hearst's private yacht in November 1924 that brought together some of the country's best known personalities and resulted in a still-unsolved, hushed-up killing.

Starring:
Kirsten Dunst, Edward Herrmann
Runtime:
1 hour, 53 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Peter Bogdanovich
Starring Kirsten Dunst, Edward Herrmann
Supporting actors Eddie Izzard, Cary Elwes, Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Tilly, Claudia Harrison, Victor Slezak, James Laurenson, Ronan Vibert, Chiara Schoras, Claudie Blakley, Ingrid Lacey, John C. Vennema, Steven Peros, Yuki Iwamoto, Zoi Mavroudi, Despina Mirou, Stavros Serafetinis, Soweto Kinch
Studio Lionsgate
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 23, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Whodunnit?" This movie tries to answer that -- in 1924, a star-studded boat trip went wrong when someone got shot, and the truth of it was never investigated. This is one thing that might have happened. The actors appear to be enjoying themselves romping through Roaring 20s decadence, but rise to the occasion when genuine acting is called for. It's like an Agatha Christie murder mystery, except no Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot.
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.
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Format: DVD
Cat's Meow is based on events that took place one November weekend in 1924 when the financial mogul William Randolph Hearst (Edward Herrmann) invited a group of celebrities to his yacht. The occasion was to celebrate the birthday of the film producer Thomas Ince (Cary Elwes). Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard) was also among the invitees. There were also some rumors prior to the trip that Chaplin fancied the actress Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst) who was Hearst's beloved girlfriend. The birthday cruise became an envious love triangle which has death as its destination.

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.
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Format: VHS Tape
Not much is really known about that cruise in 1924 on the yacht of William Randolph Hearst. All we know for sure is that Thomas Ince died just days after the trip ended. None of the passengers on the boat were willing to concede any details, in fact, stories from the different passengers conflicted greatly.
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.
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Format: DVD
What really happened during this 'scandal' on a yatch where a film producer met his abrupt end amid a wild weekend of booze, charleston swinging, and dope?

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.
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