Movies: The Cat's Meow

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich

It instantly became one of Hollywood's great scandals--the mysterious death of Thomas Ince during a cruise on William Randolph Hearst's yacht in 1924. Officially he died of natural causes, but rumor had Hearst murdering him. This film opts for the juicier tale. It has a lovely performance by Kirsten Dunst as Marion Davies, Hearst's beloved mistress; she makes us see why someone might kill to keep her love. But the rest of the boaters (including Charlie Chaplin) are presented as idiot farceurs. The result is tiresome and tone-deaf and a disappointing comeback for Bogdanovich.

--By Richard Schickel

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