The Cat's Meow is a 2001 historical drama.
- Edward Herrmann - William Randolph Hearst
- Eddie Izzard - Charlie Chaplin
- Cary Elwes - Thomas Ince
- Joanna Lumley - Elinor Glyn
- Jennifer Tilly - Louella Parsons
- Ronan Vibert - Joseph Willicombe
- Ingrid Lacey - Jessica Barham
- John C. Vennema - Frank Barham
November 15, 1924: Among those boarding the luxury yacht Oneida in San Pedro, California are its owner, publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, and his mistress, silent film star Marion Davies; motion picture mogul Thomas H. Ince, whose birthday is the reason for the weekend cruise, and his mistress, starlet Margaret Livingston; international film star Charlie Chaplin; English writer Elinor Glyn; and Louella Parsons, a film critic for Hearst's New York American.
Several of those participating in the weekend's festivities are at a crossroads in their lives and/or careers. Chaplin, still dealing with the critical and commercial failure of A Woman of Paris and rumors he has impregnated 16-year-old Lita Grey (who appeared in his film The Kid) is in the midst of preparing The Gold Rush. Davies longs to appear in a slapstick comedy rather than the somber costume dramas to which Hearst has kept her confined. Ince's eponymous film studio is in dire financial straits, so he hopes to convince Hearst to take him on as a partner in Cosmopolitan Pictures. Parsons would like to relocate from the East Coast to more glamorous Hollywood.
Hearst suspects Davies and Chaplin have engaged in an affair, a suspicion shared by Ince, who seeks proof he can present to Hearst in order to curry favor with him. In the wastepaper basket in Chaplin's stateroom, Ince discovers a discarded love letter to Davies and pockets it with plans to produce it at an opportune moment. When he finally does, Hearst is enraged. His anger is fueled further when he finds a brooch he had given Davies in Chaplin's cabin. Hearst concludes it was lost there during a romantic liaison, and he rifles Marion's room for further evidence.
Armed with a pistol, Hearst searches the yacht for Chaplin in the middle of the night. Ince, meanwhile, runs into Davies and the two sit and talk with Ince donning a hat Chaplin had worn. Davies explains to Ince her love for Hearst and her regret at an earlier affair with Chaplin. She states "I never loved him" just as Hearst arrives behind them. Thinking Davies is referring to him, and mistaking Ince for Chaplin, a jealous Hearst shoots Ince. The assault is witnessed by Parsons, who had heard noises and went to investigate.
Hearst arranges to dock in San Diego and have a waiting ambulance take the dying Ince home. He phones the injured man's wife and tells her Ince attempted suicide when Livingston tried to end their affair, assuring her the truth won't reach the media. To the rest of his guests he announces Ince's ulcer flared up and required immediate medical attention. Davies, of course, knows the truth, and confides in Chaplin. Also armed with that knowledge is Parsons, who assures Hearst his secret will be safe in exchange for a lifetime contract with the Hearst Corporation, thus laying the groundwork for her lengthy career as one of Hollywood's most powerful gossip columnists.
After seeing Ince off, Hearst confronts Davies and Chaplin. He is berated by Chaplin, who expects Davies to join him. Hearst, however, challenges Chaplin to guarantee Davies that he can promise her a happy life. When Chaplin fails to answer, Hearst informs Chaplin of the vow of silence he and the fellow guests have made to keep the weekend's activities a secret. Chaplin despairs as he realizes the murder has strengthened Davies' love for Hearst.
The film concludes with the guests leaving Ince's funeral, as Glyn relates what became of them:
Livingston went on to star in a number of successful films and her film salary "inexplicably" went from $300 to $1000 a film. Davies starred in more of Hearst's films before finally being allowed to feature in a comedy The Hollywood Revue of 1929, which was (as Chaplin predicted) a success. She stayed by Hearst's side until his death in 1951. Chaplin married his teenage lover Lita Grey in Mexico and his film The Gold Rush was an overwhelming success. Parsons worked for Hearst for many years and subsequently became one of the most successful writers in the history of American journalism. Tom Ince was largely forgotten after the events of his death. Very few newspapers reported it, no police action was taken, and of all the people on board only one was ever questioned. It is concluded that in Hollywood, "the place just off the coast of the planet Earth," no two accounts of the story are the same.
- "After You've Gone" - Marion and Band