Director: Peter Bogdanovich
During their legendary mentor/protégé relationship, director Orson Welles inspired Peter Bogdanovich in ways that are impossible to calculate—as it seems that with each new interview or work completed by Bogdanovich, he’s once again paying homage to or drawing inspiration from the master. Take for example the famous murder mystery covered up in 1924 that Welles told an impressionable Bogdanovich about years ago. While initially intrigued to direct, it wasn’t until he decided to use Steven Pero’s adaptation of his play that he found the perfect source material about the curious events surrounding the mysterious death of Thomas H. Ince while attending a party aboard William Randolph Heart’s yacht, alongside guests including Charlie Chaplin, Heart’s young lover Marion Davies and columnist Louella Parsons. Kirsten Dunst received a Best Actress award from Mar del Plata Film Festival for her portrayal of the beautiful, sweet and free-spirited Davies whose May/December relationship with Hearst (Edward Herrmann) is jeopardized by the constant attentions, tangible sexual attraction and flirtation with Chaplin (Eddie Izzard). The actors are all excellent and nobody handles a star-studded ensemble with the same level of class and subtle in-joke tongue in cheek Hollywood humor quite like Bogdanovich and while it is always going to be a mystery as to what exactly happened during that fateful party, this film, based party on truth of “the whisper told most often” as the slogan states, is dazzling and elegant fun. As noted by IMDB, pay special attention to the intelligent choices in art and costume design complete with muted colors designed to make the work feel like a piece that’s cinematically evident of that particular period of the time, as originally Bogdanovich wanted the piece to be shot in black and white.