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Fuller Mellish Jr.
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
The good leading performances of Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler, plus the well-crafted dockside atmosphere, combine to make "Min and Bill" well worth seeing. Both Beery and Dressler have roles well-suited to them, and the two of them are thoroughly convincing in their relationship with each other. The actual story works all right, but mainly thanks to the leads and the settings. In itself, the story contains some worthwhile ideas, but some of the developments are too contrived to make it fully satisfying.
The main characters are interesting in their personalities, their imperfections, and in their relationships with each other and with the other characters. It's a pleasure to see Dressler and Beery in their scenes together, because with apparent ease they make use of - in ways subtle and not-so-subtle - the full range of possibilities in the way that Min and Bill relate to each other. Then too, the characters fit in seamlessly with the settings, which are also nicely done in themselves.
There's almost no need for much of a story, since it would be interesting just to see more of their daily lives. Most of the developments in the movie revolve around Dorothy Jordan's character, a young woman who has been brought up by Min. There are some thoughtful moments showing how she and Min feel about each other at different times, but at other times the script seems to miss some better possibilities. Dressler makes everything that Min does seem natural, but at times her skill is the only reason why it works. Thanks to her and Beery, it does work pretty well overall, and it is one of the better movies from the earliest years of sound films.
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