A far more successful exercise in nostalgia than “Nickelodeon,” 2001’s “The Cat’s Meow” speculates the death of old Hollywood mogul Thomas Ince aboard publisher William Randolph Hearst’s yacht in 1924, dramatizing the long-standing rumor. that a jealous Hearst shot Ince by accident, intending to kill Charlie Chaplin instead. This rumor had interested Bogdanovich for decades, ever since Orson Welles told him the incident was included in an early version of âCitizen Kane,â as the main character was infamously modeled on Hearst.
Working from Steven Peros’ adaptation of his own play, the film brings together a cast of famous faces playing other famous faces, including comedian Eddie Izzard as Chaplin, Edward Hermann as Hearst. and Kirsten Dunst as Marion Davies, Hearst’s mistress whose brief affair with Chaplin sets the plot in motion. A misplaced bowler hat seals the fate of Ince, played by Cary Elwes, as Hearst pulls the wrong man’s trigger.
Co-starring with Jennifer Tilly as Louella Parsons, Hearst’s longtime gossip maven, “The Cat’s Meow” marked a career comeback, earning Bogdanovich some of his best reviews in years, especially for his ensemble. solid and its flourishes of Hollywood insiders.