The Cat's Meow (2001)



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

Movie Info

Peter Bogdanovich turns his sights on the 1920s for a fictitious look at the possible reasons for the death of silent movie producer Thomas Ince (played here by Cary Elwes) after spending a holiday with media tycoon William Randolph Hearst (played by Edward Herrmann). The film begins and ends on Ince's funeral, attended by best-selling novelist Elinor Glyn (Joanna Lumley), who was present when the young producer finally died and who leads the audience through the unsure details of what may have … More

Rating: PG-13 (for sexuality, a scene of violence and brief nudity)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Steven Peros
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 20, 2002
Box Office: $3.2M
Lions Gate Films Releasing - Official Site


as Marion Davies

as William Randolph Hea...

as Charlie Chaplin

as Thomas Ince

as Elinor Glyn

as Louella Parsons

as Margaret Livingston

as Joseph Willcombe

as George Thomas

as Mrs. Barham

as Mr. Barham

as Dr. Daniel Carson Go...

as Mr. Cannonball
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Cat's Meow

All Critics (125) | Top Critics (36)

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).

Full Review… | October 15, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

Featherweight but fun.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

...a missed opportunity that's rarely as engrossing or intriguing as its premise might have indicated.

Full Review… | May 7, 2011
Reel Film Reviews

It's good to see Peter Bogdanovich working again, but his Hollywood tale feels like a minor, trashy TV melodrama

Full Review… | May 3, 2011

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

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Common Sense Media

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

Super Reviewer


Just okay. Somewhat stilted dialogue but that may just be Kirsten Dunst's modern inflection and forced gaiety.

Alice Shen

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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