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The Cat's Meow (2001)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  3 May 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 6,706 users   Metascore: 63/100
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Semi-true story of the Hollywood murder that occurred at a star-studded gathering aboard William Randolph Hearst's yacht in 1924.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Claudia Harrison ...
James Laurenson ...
Ingrid Lacey ...
Elinor's Driver


In November of 1924, a mysterious Hollywood death occurred aboard media mogul William Randolph Hearst's yacht. Included among the famous guests that weekend were, Charlie Chaplin, Hearst's mistress, starlet Marion Davies, the studio system creator, producer Thomas Ince, and feared gossip columnist, Louella Parsons. Written by Carol Lewis, Producer

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Triangle... A Murder... A Secret... Don't Tell. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, a scene of violence and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| | |


Release Date:

3 May 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Everybody Charleston  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$111,037 (USA) (12 April 2002)


$3,176,936 (USA) (14 June 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The soundtrack for this film includes several songs performed by Paul Whiteman, including Somebody Loves Me, Say it with Music, and Stumbling. In reality, Whiteman would go on to marry Margaret Livingston, who is portrayed in this film by Claudia Harrison. See more »


The flag flying at the back of the yacht is the current US flag, which didn't come into use until 1959. In 1924, there were 48 stars in neat rows and columns 8 x 6. See more »


[first lines]
Man in crowd: Stop pushing! Stop pushing!
[unintelligible yells from crowd]
Man in crowd: Please, calm down!
Elinor Glyn: [voiceover] In November of 1924, during a weekend yacht party bound for San Diego, a mysterious death occurred within the Hollywood community. However there was no coverage in the press, no police action, and of the fourteen passengers on board only one was ever questioned by authorities. Little evidence exists now or existed at the time to support any version of those weekend events. History has been ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Thanks to the people of Kyparissi; Captain Kostas and the crew of the yacht "Marala" See more »


Version of The Hearst and Davies Affair (1985) See more »


If You Were the Only Girl in the World
Performed by Ian Whitcomb & His Bungalow Boys
Refrain by Ian Whitcomb
Written by Clifford Grey and Nat Ayer (as Nat D. Ayer)
See more »

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User Reviews

14 April 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"The Cat's Meow" contains a few scenes that boast intelligent dialogue, and some fine performances, a few of which surprised me. Eddie Izzard is more effective than I expected as Chaplin (partly thanks to an excellent hair and makeup job by some talented designer); Joanna Lumley is compelling as novelist Elinor Glyn; and Kirsten Dunst is winning as Marion Davies (though why movies never use her real-life stutter is difficult to explain). But these elements don't add up to a successful whole. The screenwriter seems to have worked very hard on certain scenes--the meetings between Davies and Chaplin are particularly well crafted--but not so hard on the big picture. Several minor characters don't need to be there, and don't behave consistently. The basic plot is full of illogic (e.g., why does Thomas Ince think it's a good idea to tell Hearst something he really doesn't want to hear?), and the party scenes are repetitive and tiresome. I'd like to think a trip on Hearst's yacht was more fun than the movie indicates. Davies is characterized as a standard bubbly Flapper type, which isn't really accurate, and the screenwriter's ideas about Chaplin and love are implausible.

Strangely, Bogdanovich, who seemed so connected to the Thirties in "Paper Moon", lacks a similar affinity for the Twenties. He insisted the excellent costume designer use only black and cream, which gives the party guests a very artificial look, and plays only the most stereotypical songs of the period (e.g., "Yes, We Have No Bananas"). When Hearst insists everybody "Charleston, Charleston!" it looks as if the actors had a ten-minute dance lesson just before the scene was shot.

The lives of silent film stars can make fascinating movies, I'm sure, but not this time.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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