The Cats Meow
In 1924, a mysterious death occurred aboard the private yacht of media giant William Randolph Hearst. Hearst (Edward Herrmann) would frequently entertain actors, directors, studio heads, newspaper columnists and people from his many newspaper affiliates, during weekend cruises along the California coast. Noted silent screen star Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst), who carried on a long time affair with the married Hearst, serves as cruise director. Womanizing actor-director Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard), rumored to also have a relationship with Marion, tries to convince Hearst she belongs in comedy films. Invited to celebrate his birthday, visionary producer and studio head Tom Ince (Cary Elwes) hopes a Hearst partnership will help his failing career. Trying to endear himself to Hearst, Ince supplies possible evidence of Chaplin’s rumored affair with Davies, driving the jealous Hearst to drastic action. Fans of Hollywood’s silent film era will enjoy the period detail and talented performances.
The film reflects, as one character puts it, the California Curse where all traces of morality vanish. Adulterous affairs, some graphically heard, alcohol and marijuana use, manipulation of the truth, cover-ups and lies fill this historical legend. Although no explicit nudity is seen, a naked woman opens the door to greet her lover and suggestive innuendoes are scattered through the conversations. The dialogue is also filled with frequent crude language and numerous profanities. Although a fascinating portrayal of rumored events, THE CAT’S MEOW, 1920’s slang for a purr-fect event, exhibits alley cat morals.