I really like this underrated film from Peter Bogdanovich, which seems to have slipped through the cracks since its release. While I believe its a wonderfully crafted and engaging film, I have to admit I’m biased because I love this whole era, and particularly the work of Chaplin, who’s a main character in it. This movie has a really great cast, especially the fantastic Edward Herrmann, who kills (in more ways than one) as W.R. Hearst.
The Cat’s Meow is based on rumors and speculation surrounding the very suspicious occurrences aboard W.R. Heart’s yacht in 1924 that may or may not have lead to the death of film mogul Thomas Ince (probably more ‘may’ than ‘may not.”) The leading theory is that Hearst was jealous of Chaplin’s affair with his girlfriend Marion Davies, and accidentally shot Ince when meaning to kill Charlie. You can read more about the mystery here, scroll down to “Murder and Natural Death debate.”
Today’s youtube clip not only shows Marion Davies (Kristen Dunst) and Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard) in a really beautifully directed scene/shot, but also illuminates some really interesting aspects of this film as it’s a movie clip within the documentary “By Bogdanovich,” which includes a disconcertingly-not-so-animated, yet always interesting, Bogdanovich pontificating on his work. I love how he can just as easily claim credit for what he knows he’s done well as give kudos where kudos are due while admitting his own short-comings (eg, finding the ending of The Cat’s Meow).
Peter Bogdanovich channels Orson Welles
I know I said no one can block these oners like Welles, but, wow, P.B. sure is giving him a run for his money with this scene – it’s organic, flowing, natural and intense.
Today’s shot from The Cat’s Meow begins at 5:15 – but why not watch the whole excerpt from the documentary? It starts with The-Ascotted-One talking about his work in television, which I found very engaging.