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
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 »
Man in crowd:
Stop pushing! Stop pushing!
[unintelligible yells from crowd]
Man in crowd:
Please, calm down!
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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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 »
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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