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The Cat's Meow DVD

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A Hollywood scandal springs to life in Peter Bogdanovich's lively Cat's Meow. In 1924 the immensely powerful publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst held a yacht party that ended with a gunshot. Between Hearst's influence and that of his glitterati guests (including Louella Parsons and Charlie Chaplin), no satisfying account of what happened ever made it to the public. The Cat's Meow reconstructs one of the more whispered-about possible scenarios and has quite a bit of fun doing so. Cast and crew alike skewer 1920s Hollywood decadence and, by extension, today's. Eddie Izzard is a boldly odd casting choice as Chaplin, but he succeeds, refusing to fall back on Little Tramp mannerisms. There are several other good performances, but best of all is the cool-as-sherbet Joanna Lumley as the deliciously jaded Elinor Glyn. The script is a strong one, never stooping to the excesses of its characters--Bogdanovich's take is far from the most lurid allegations of what happened that weekend. --Ali Davis

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Peter Bogdanovich directs this comedy of manners set in 1920s California. The film is a fictionalised account of the death of silent film producer Thomas Ince (Cary Elwes), who died mysteriously following a holiday with media mogul William Randolph Hearst (Edward Herrmann) and Hearst's lover, starlet Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst). Aboard Hearst's yacht as it sets sail from San Pedro harbour is a small, distinguished group of passengers including the wildly talented but self-absorbed and lascivious Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard), sardonic novelist Elinor Glyn (Joanna Lumley), gossip columnist and film critic Louella Parsons (Jennifer Tilly), and pioneering fimmaker Thomas Ince. Witty repartee, deceit and deception follow as the various intrigues and complicated schemings of the passengers unfold.

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