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The Cat's Meow (2001)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance | 3 May 2002 (USA)
2:15 | Trailer

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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.


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


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



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, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,209,481, 20 June 2002

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Producer Kim Bieber played the Marion Davies role (here played by Kirsten Dunst) in the stage version. See more »


In the opening, Chaplin's hair is wind-blown in wide shots and neat in the close-ups. 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 »


Referenced in By Bogdanovich (2011) See more »


Hesitation Blues
Performed by Ian Whitcomb & His Bungalow Boys
Written by Scott Middleton and Billy Smythe
See more »

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User Reviews

A little from column A, a little from column B
21 June 2003 | by Decko_koji_obecavaSee all my reviews

First of all, this film is based on a fascinating real-life tale that's been a part of Hollywood folklore for decades and one that I, amazingly, am hearing of now for the first time.

In November of 1924. media tycoon, movie producer and one of the richest and most powerful men in America at the time William Randolph Hearst organized a lavish private cruise on his yacht with many important Hollywood players invited on board. Among them: movie producer Thomas Ince with his mistress actress Margaret Livingston in tow, Hearst's own mistress - actress Marion Davies, Charlie Chaplin, writer Elinor Glyn, gossip columnist Louella Parsons, etc..

Unfortunately, not all guests made it back on terra firma in the same condition they left it as Thomas Ince died two days later from the effects of whatever it is that happened to him on that boat. Because of wealth and social status of the people on board at the time of Ince's end, his death was hushed up without proper investigation leading in the years since to many wild rumours as to what exactly occurred. Fuelling these further was the fact that possible foul play witness Louella Parsons, up to that point a mere Hearst columnist in New York, soon after the events got a lucrative lifetime contract with his corporation.

In "The Cat's Meow" Peter Bogdanovich, himself not a stranger to Hollywood entanglements involving good looking young fame-seeking starlets, jealousy, murder, and desperation induced by lack of money, takes one version of the events ('whispers heard most often' as the movie tagline puts it) and runs with it. His movie will inevitably draw comparisons to Bob Altman's "Gosford Park" - a vastly superior experience, but "The Cat's Meow" is still worth seeing, though largely on the basis of what it covers rather than how it covers it. If these were completely fictitious events I don't think I'd recommend it. Altman's film is much more enthralling, its script is better and as a result actors end up looking more convincing. Joanne Lumley, whose portrayal of Elinor Glyn seems to be an impression of Jackie Collins, was particularly annoying here. Though it has its good moments, "The Cat's Meow" with its overall hokiness too many times feels like watching dramatization sequences on 'E! True Hollywood Story'.

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