An array of 1920s show-biz legends are gathered for a party as deadly as it is glamorous in "The Cat's Meow," a fun fictional exploration of a real-life Hollywood incident.
By DAN EPSTEIN
"The Cat's Meow" is a tale of mystery and intrigue that has always been whispered about in Hollywood, hence its tagline "The Whisper Told Most Often . . ." There has always been mystery surrounding the real-life death of one the main characters in this movie and the film does its best to explain the story behind it with great aplomb. Throughout the 20th century, most of the characters in this movie we have only seen playing roles in films or talked about in documentaries. This film takes them out of that context and gives them fictional life, letting them be themselves and interact with one another, which is in some ways more interesting.
As the "fictional" plot has it, in the early 1920s William Randolph
Hearst (Edward Herrmann) throws a birthday party for former movie mogul Thomas
Ince (Cary Elwes) aboard his yacht. In attendance are his lover, actress
Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst), Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard), and up-and-coming gossip columnist Louella Parsons (Jennifer Tilly). Chaplin is
constantly after Davies and Ince wants to spy on them in order to get in
good with Hearst so that Hearst will fund his failing movie-producing
career. Chaplin sleeps with Davies after a huge drug-and-sex orgy, and Hearst
finds out with unexpected consequences.
|THE CAT'S MEOW|
|Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich.|
Written by: Steven Peros.
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Cary Elwes, Edward Herrmann, Eddie Izzard, Joanna Lumley, Victor Slezak, Jennifer Tilly, James Laurenson, Ronan Vibert, Chiara Schoras, Ingrid Lacey, John C. Vennema, Claudia Harrison, Claudie Blakley..
Related links: Official site
Directed by onetime Hollywood great and Orson Welles biographer Peter Bogdanovich ("The Last Picture Show," "Paper Moon"), the film may have had special significance for the director because its somewhat speculative plot shows Welles' enemy, Hearst, in a bad light and involves the murder of an "innocent" in Hollywood that may have resonated with the murder of his lover Dorothy Stratten. It won't show up at Oscar time but it is a lot of fun, with very strong performances by Edward Herrmann and Cary Elwes. And it features an amazing turn by Eddie Izzard, who totally embraces the role of Charlie Chaplin and turns him into exactly what he was a dirty old man with a great sense of humor.
|APRIL 11, 2002|
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