In November 1924, multimillionaire William Randolph Hearst (Edward Herrmann) hosts a weekend of festivities aboard his 220-foot steamer in honor of filmmaker Thomas Ince’s (Cary Elwes) birthday.
It seems that everyone on board wants something from Hearst. Ince and his partner, George Thomas (Victor Slezak), need his financial assistance for their faltering business; gossip columnist Louella Parsons (Jennifer Tilly), an East Coast Hearst employee, wants to transfer to Tinseltown; and comedian womanizer Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard) wants Hearst’s lover Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst) for his own. Joined by other party goers, including English Victorian novelist Elinor Glyn (Joanna Lumley) and Ince’s mistress, the actress Margaret Livingston (Claudia Harrison), the group ships off for a weekend of fun and debauchery.
The festivities soon turn more serious as Chaplin pursues Davies, fueling Hearst’s jealousy over their alleged relationship. Ince, meanwhile, attempts to ingratiate himself with Hearst by keeping an eye on Chaplin and Davies. Ultimately, jealousy leads to tragedy, with all of the party goers sworn to secrecy over what transpired. Director Peter Bogdanovich (MASK) successfully recreates the opulence of Hearst’s lifestyle and the spirit of the Roaring Twenties right down to the bootleg moonshine and the Charleston.