Semi-true story of the Hollywood murder that occurred at a star-studded gathering aboard William Randolph Hearst's yacht in 1924.


Peter Bogdanovich


Steven Peros (screenplay), Steven Peros (play)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Kirsten Dunst ... Marion Davies
Edward Herrmann ... W.R. Hearst
Eddie Izzard ... Charlie Chaplin
Cary Elwes ... Thomas Ince
Joanna Lumley ... Elinor Glyn
Jennifer Tilly ... Louella Parsons
Claudia Harrison ... Margaret Livingston
Victor Slezak ... George Thomas
James Laurenson ... Dr. Daniel Goodman
Ronan Vibert ... Joseph Willicombe
Chiara Schoras ... Celia
Claudie Blakley ... Didi
Ingrid Lacey ... Jessica Barham
John C. Vennema ... Frank Barham
Steven Peros ... Elinor's Driver


In November of 1924, a mysterious Hollywood death occurred aboard media mogul William Randolph Hearst's yacht. Among the famous guests that weekend were: film star Charlie Chaplin; starlet Marion Davies (who was also Hearst's mistress at the time); silent-film producer Thomas H. Ince (known for creating the first Hollywood-studio facility and for creating an "assembly line" system for filmmaking); and feared gossip columnist, Louella Parsons. Written by Carol Lewis, Producer

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Some secrets won't stay buried. See more »


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The costuming and sets were designed with as little color as possible to give the illusion of a black and white film. This was to make up for the fact that the film wasn't allowed to be filmed in black and white as originally planned. See more »


The rubber-ball fenders seen as the Onida is docked are of a modern (c. 1970) design. Period fenders would have been white and cylindrical. 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 ...
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Crazy Credits

The characters, entities, and events depicted and the names used in this motion picture are ficticious. Any similarities to any actual persons living or dead or to any actual entities or events is entirely coincidental and unintentional. See more »


References The Lady of the Harem (1926) See more »


When I Lost You
Performed by Ian Whitcomb & His Bungalow Boys
Written by Irving Berlin
Courtesy of ITW Industries
See more »

User Reviews

Star rating: 3 out of 5
13 January 2005 | by jennifer_litchfieldSee all my reviews

The Cat's Meow offers an insight into what may (or may not) have occurred during a fateful pleasure cruise aboard media mogul William Randolph Hearst's yacht in 1924. One guest didn't survive the trip, and afterwards the other passengers only ever talked about what happened during those few days in riddles. The film is at pains to point out that it only depicts one possible version of events, which unfortunately does rather undermine the convincing storyline.

The story begins in Hollywood, "a land just off the coast of the planet earth", in that decadent decade dominated by the Charleston, flappers, and bootleg moonshine. The women's costumes are thus visually spectacular – all satin and feathers – but some of the actors seem to be overwhelmed by the splendour, and appear somewhat wooden as a result. The notable exception to this is Kirsten Dunst, who plays the effervescent Marion Davies, Hearst's mistress. However, the best lines in the film surely belong to the wonderfully cynical and sarcastic Joanna Lumley.

The thing the movie does capture to perfection is the double standards extant in Hollywood. One of the characters disdainfully dismisses the Prohibition, claiming that alcohol isn't illegal "for us". And that seems to pretty much sum up the attitude of the film fraternity at the time – that they are above rules and regulations. Even murder, it would seem, can be hushed up.

This isn't a murder mystery as such; anyone with a thorough knowledge of Hollywood history will know who died, and the whispers surrounding the event. But the average viewer may question if, after all this time, they really care what the truth is. Better instead to enjoy this film as a fiction.

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UK | Germany | Canada | USA



Release Date:

3 May 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Everybody Charleston See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany See more »


Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$111,037, 14 April 2002

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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