The Cat’s Meow (2001)

PETER BOGDANOVICH

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

USA/Germany/United Kingdom2001.  Lions Gate Films, Dan Films, CP Medien AG, Erste, Zweite, Dritte, Vierte Cat’s Meow CbE, Munich, KC Medien.  Screenplay by , based on his play.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

It’s 1924, and publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst () has invited a group of guests (celebrities and mortals alike), onto his giant yacht for an off-coast California weekend (in reality the exteriors were shot in Greece and the interiors in Berlin). His own personal jealousy of his mistress Marion Davies () and her possible relationship with movie star Charles Chaplin () is an obsession with him, and while the other guests whoop it up with contraband liquor and crazy dancing, he keeps his eyes hooked on the innocent pair (Chaplin definitely wanted Davies, but she refused him on the grounds of her affection for Hearst). To make a long story short, the trip ended in the death of producer William Ince (), but the nature of the crime was one that was never fully investigated by the police and to this day remains mostly a mystery. The film makes a giant, credible inference as to the reason for the incident, fully involving the talented cast in the conundrum; Gosford Ship it’s not, however, as the characters overpower the story the way they did in Altman’s classic but without the indelible charm. The acting is perfect, ruled over by Dunst’s warm, intelligent and totally charismatic portrayal of Davies (the most flattering portrait of this extremely interesting woman yet seen on screen). Also a standout is Izzard’s brilliant portrayal of the Little Tramp (though not necessarily better than Robert Downey, Jr.’s in Chaplin), Jennifer Tilly as an awkward and green Louella Parsons and a perfectly cast as novelist Elinor Glyn (who narrates the picture). Anybody with the slightest bit of interest in the period or the characters involved will not want to miss a frame of this enjoyable and gorgeously designed movie.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s