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The Cat’s Meow

• Director: Peter Bogdanovich
• Writers: Steven Peros, Steven Peros
• Release Date: 12 April 2002 (USA)
• MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexuality, a scene of violence and brief drug use.
• Parents Guide: View content advisory for parents
• Genre: Drama
• Runtime: 114 min.
• Box Office #s: Here

Cast Highlights
• Eddie Izzard
• Jennifer Tilly
• Edward Herrmann
• Cary Elwes
• Joanna Lumley

In November of 1924, a mysterious Hollywood death occurred aboard media mogul William Randolph Hearst’s yacht. Included among the famous guests that weekend were, Charlie Chaplin, Hearst’s mistress, starlet Marion Davies, the studio system creator, producer Thomas Ince, and feared gossip columnist, Louella Parsons.

From the Gallery

Trailer

Trivia

  • Released theatrically in US. In UK, it was originally released on TV, but was given a theatrical release after its TV success.
  • Producer Kim Bieber played the Marion Davies role (here played by Kirsten Dunst) in the stage version.
  • The costuming and sets were designed with as little color as possible to give the illusion of a black and white film. This was to make up for the fact that the film wasn’t allowed to be filmed in black and white as originally planned.
  • The title of the film was a popular slang phrase in the 1920s that meant the equivalent of “really cool”, “great”, “the best”.
  • Joanna Lumley’s bits of narration at the beginning and end of the film were recorded in a single take.
  • The first script written by Steven Peros was originally entitled Everybody Charleston.
  • Despite the fact that Charles Chaplin actually had bright blue eyes, Eddie Izzard wore dark contact lenses to keep with the public perception of Chaplin as dark featured. Most have only seen or remember him in black and white films, and assume he had dark eyes.
  • Peter Bogdanovich originally became interested in the story after hearing the stories surrounding Thomas H. Ince’s death from Orson Welles. Years later, he became attached to this project.
  • While shooting the exteriors in Greece the crew were cursed with bad weather. It went from sunny to rainy and back again at the drop of a hat which caused major problems with continuity. The whole crew decided that it was Hearst who was at the bottom of it, unhappy that they were making such a film about him. On set, each time the weather changed for the worst someone would shout “That’s Hearst!!”.
  • The soundtrack for this film includes several songs performed by Paul Whiteman, including Somebody Loves Me, Say it with Music and Stumbling. In reality, Whiteman would go on to marry Margaret Livingston, who is portrayed in this film by Claudia Harrison.
  • The characters of Didi and Celia appear to be composites of several popular film actresses of the day who were on board Heart’s yacht during the real incident, in addition to Marion Davies and Margaret Livingston. They were Seena Owen, Jacqueline Logan, Aileen Pringle and Julanne Johnston.

Quotes

Charlie Chaplin: Did you really believe I would stay away?
Marion Davies: No, but you should really believe I didn’t want you here.

Marion Davies: Nothing can happen this weekend.
Charlie Chaplin: So what are you doing next weekend?

Charlie Chaplin: If you were starving and you had no food, would you eat your shoe?
Marion Davies: What?
Charlie Chaplin: Your shoe. Would you eat it?
Marion Davies: Um, of course I would.
Charlie Chaplin: You would?
Marion Davies: I’d have to boil it first.
Charlie Chaplin: *That’s* funny.