Guest Author - Amber Grey
"The Cat's Meow" (20001) is directed by the legendary Peter Bogdanovich and it includes an ensemble cast of people portraying some of the most recognizable stars. Actress Kirsten Dunst portrays Marion Davies while Edward Hermann portrays the Newspaper tycoon and Davies' lover William Randolph Hearst. English comedian Eddie Izzard is Charlie Chaplin, "Absolutely Fabulous" actress Joanna Lumley is the "It Girl" novelist Elinor Glyn, while Jennifer Tily is the soon-to-be infamous Louella Parsons and "The Princess Bride" Cary Elwes portrays Thomas Ince.
The story is told in flashback, opening to Thomas Ince's funeral while Elinor Glyn provides the cryptic narration as she recalls beginning of their fateful weekend that was to be the last of Ince's life. As the film proceeds, Bogdonavich's directing gives us enough distance to watch these icons as real people in what their relationships were to each other - both professionally and romantically and how they may have interacted with each other at the time.
If one is unfamiliar with the death of Thomas Ince, the film does an excellent job of allowing the preceding events. They unfold for the viewer, taking on the form of one of the most well-known theories of the mystery which involved a possible love triangle between Hearst, Chaplin and Davies with Ince caught in the crossfires.
The cast gives equally natural and personal performances portraying these Hollywood icons. In what was one of her first adult roles, child star Kirsten Dunst does a superb job at capturing the fragility of Davies' character while also demonstrating comedic ability in scenes where we have to wonder, what if Marion Davies became a comedienne, when she certainly had the knack for doing so. As well as Eddie Izzard, who does a fine job resembling Charlie Chaplin in his physicality and form.
It is interesting to note that director Peter Bogdanovich helmed the film because he wanted to explore the screenplay's themes of jealousy, fame, love and lust. And screenwriter Steven Peros was intrigued by the story when he saw a silent film of Thomas Ince's when he was attending college.