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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
Given the running time of barely over an hour my guess is that MGM did not think Min and Bill would wind up the success it did. But the team of Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler proved to be box office. It also proved that you didn't necessarily have to appeal to that all knowing youth market to have box office attraction. Min and Bill was definitely for the senior citizen trade.
Director George Roy Hill created a real waterfront atmosphere for the telling of this story of an old woman who runs a cheap waterfront boarding house and the old fisherman who's her boyfriend. Min has a young girl living with her who was deposited on her doorstep by her mother who took off.
Years later the mother, played by Marjorie Rambeau comes back with a vengeance and wants her kid. The daughter is played by Dorothy Jordan who is now in a finishing school and about to be wed to a rich young man.
Of course this sets up the final conflict. Marjorie Rambeau deserves some accolades as well for her performance as a waterfront tramp.
Since the conflict between Dressler and Rambeau is what drives the film, Beery is around, but he's not central to the plot. Still even today he and Dressler provide a few good laughs.
Marie Dressler who was in her sixties when she won her Oscar for Best Actress, lived only four more years after this film was done. On the strength of this film, she became a box office draw, making something of a comeback from her days in vaudeville in the ragtime era where she was a star. She and Beery partnered again in the lighter Tugboat Annie.
Min and Bill though a real antique from the early talkies retains a certain charm that still comes through for today's audience.
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