The Cat's Meow (2001) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Cat's Meow (2001)



Critic Consensus: The Cat's Meow is a deliciously evoked period piece and whodunit.

The Cat's Meow Photos

Movie Info

The year is 1924 and billionaire publisher William Randolph Hearst (Edward Hermann) has arranged a birthday cruise aboard his yacht, Oneida, for financially distressed film pioneer Thomas H. Ince (Cary Elwes). But trouble is in the air, for among the guests is Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard), who intends to steal Hearst's mistress, the actress Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst), right from under his nose. As the Oneida sails into the deep waters of the Pacific, the jealous Hearst struggles to suppress murderous thoughts amid unfettered merrymaking and the propositioning of gold diggers. When Ince discovers a love letter from Chaplin, he believes it is the key to a golden future in Hearst's production company, Cosmopolitan Pictures; but revealing the document leads to an unfathomable tragedy. Based on a true incident once related to director Peter Bogdanovich by Orson Welles, this story was originally intended as part of Citizen Kane but was eventually omitted from the landmark film.

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Kirsten Dunst
as Marion Davies
Edward Herrmann
as William Randolph Hearst
Eddie Izzard
as Charlie Chaplin
Cary Elwes
as Thomas Ince
Joanna Lumley
as Elinor Glyn
Jennifer Tilly
as Louella Parsons
Claudia Harrison
as Margaret Livingston
Ronan Vibert
as Joseph Willcombe
Victor Slezak
as George Thomas
Ingrid Lacey
as Mrs. Barham
John C. Vennema
as Mr. Barham
James Laurenson
as Dr. Daniel Carson Goodman
Hendrik Arnst
as Mr. Cannonball
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Critic Reviews for The Cat's Meow

All Critics (129) | Top Critics (44)

Bogdanovich ruefully links the allure of classic Hollywood and the ruthlessness of its potentates.

February 22, 2021 | Full Review…

This story about a possible murder isn't for kids.

December 28, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The strongest achievement of The Cat's Meow may be the performances, especially those of Kirsten Dunst (Davies), Edward Herrmann (Hearst), and even Eddie Izzard (Chaplin).

October 15, 2009 | Rating: 3/4

The '20s-set pic is given considerable bounce by a splendid cast, led by Kirsten Dunst in an eye-opening perf as Marion Davies.

October 18, 2008 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Featherweight but fun.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

It''s still a tasty footnote in the chequered histories of both Chaplin -- rumoured to be Davies' secret lover -- and Hearst.

August 3, 2004 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Cat's Meow

Went for it just because it's based on true events. Turns out it's based on rumors. No problem. Was surprised to learn that Chaplin was so scandalous. The story was not so so-so, but the performances and casting were. Historically, if the given version is correct, it's quite significant in depicting the height of corruption. As to me, I really don't know. If he's shot, why didn't anyone come forward even after Hearst's death? If he wasn't, why the characters involved got a promotion soon after it. It surely was given a touch of a cover up. The movie doesn't tend to explain it, it simply presents (modification of) one of the versions of this mysterious event. Could have been way better.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

Gawd this is a boring film. Hearst and Chaplin were probably rolling over in their graves at their portrayals in this film. Neither of them were particularly interesting to hang out with. Kirsten Dunst portrays annoying as no one else can.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Quirky and entertaining, The Cat's Meow is a captivating period film about a fascinating piece of Hollywood lore. Inspired by true events and based on a play, the story attempts to unravel a notorious Hollywood murder that supposedly occurred aboard the yacht of wealthy media tycoon William Randolph Hearst in 1924. Kirsten Dunst, Edward Herrmann, Eddie Izzard, and Cary Elwes form a solid cast and give good performances. Additionally, the makeup and costumes are especially well-done, and give an authentic look and feel to the film. However, the storytelling is poor and gets a little lost in itself. The Cat's Meow is an intriguing murder mystery, but there are some problems with the execution.

Dann Michalski
Dann Michalski

Super Reviewer

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