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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
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" 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.
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