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Min owns the waterfront hotel where Bill, the captain of a fishing boat, lives. Also living and working in the hotel is Nancy, whom Min took in some years ago as an abandoned girl. Now that Nancy is older, the truant officer and the police think that she should be moved to a different environment, and Min is torn between her attachment to Nancy and her concern that the waterfront may not be the best place for a young woman. Matters are brought to a head by the sudden re-appearance of Belle, Nancy's disreputable mother. Written by
Seedy waterfront hotel proprietress Marie Dressler (as Min) lives with a pseudo-family she has created. Her "partner" is Wallace Berry (as Bill), with whom she exchanges "flirts" for free rent. Together, they are surrogate parents for schoolgirl Dorothy Jordan (as Nancy), who was abandoned by lowlife mother Marjorie Rambeau (as Bella). Problems surface during Ms. Jordan's adolescence; she begins to draw the attention of both suitors, and truant officers. Then, her sleazy mother returns to claim her
If you're looking at the comments on "Min and Bill", you may be interested in sampling Dressler's "Best Actress" performance. IMO, although she did win the 1930/31 Academy Award, this is neither Dressler's best performance, nor the best acted role by a woman for the year. During the eligibility period, both the nominated Marlene Dietrich (in "Morocco"), and the non-nominated Sylvia Sidney (in "An American Tragedy") were more worthy. Dressler was certainly deserving of an award, however; she had given a series of flawless performances, leading up to "Min and Bill".
As "Min", Dressler uses an abundance of her manners and fidgets; she is obviously not as well-concentrated or well-directed as in other films; but, she is always entertaining. During one of her most over-the-top scenes, she takes an axe to Wallace Beery. Dressler's best moments occur during her beautifully rendered finale. Mr. Berry excels, but in more of a supporting role than the title implies; and, Ms. Rambeau is a terrific "gutter-rat" rival. See "Emma" for a more award-worthy Dressler performance. And, see "Tugboat Annie" for a superior Dressler-Berry team-up.
****** Min and Bill (11/21/30) George Hill ~ Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, Marjorie Rambeau, Dorothy Jordan
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