Warner Archive Collection: ‘Min and Bill’

I got a few more Warner Archive titles this week, thanks to their latest sale. One of the movies I picked up was Min and Bill, the 1930 film that won Marie Dressler the 1930/31 Best Actress Oscar.

min and bill

While I do agree that the Academy Awards are silly, they are still important to help the average movie fan figure out what was popular in the past. Had Dressler not won an Oscar for this over eight decades ago, I would never have had interest in this little film. It isn’t directed by a big name and doesn’t star any glamorous actors. In fact, beyond the top-billed stars, there are no other familiar faces. Despite all that, it is still an enjoyable, fun movie that I’m happy I picked up. Since it only takes 65 minutes to sit through, I will definitely have an opportunity to watch it again.

Min and Bill, directed and produced by George Hill, pairs Dressler with Wallace Beery, coupling the two most unlikely stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Their chemistry is infectious and they even get in a classic brawl when Bill (Beery) plays around with Min’s old friend. That old friend is the irresponsible mother to the orphan Nancy (Dorothy Jordan) who Min took in as a baby.

There are moments throughout the film where you just see how Dressler connected with audiences. She wore emotions on her face and could be both sympathetic and powerful. I do wish Greta Garbo had won for Anna Christie, but even in 1931, the Oscars were a popularity contest. So since Min and Bill was a huge hit, it’s not surprising that Dressler won. At least she’s really good in it.

Warner Archive released the film back in 2009 and it looks about as good as you can expect. I was actually surprised that some scenes looked as good as they did. The theatrical trailer is also included, advertising the film as “All-Talking!”

This is one surprisingly fun film, even if it is hampered by early talkie technology. It is a short film, but it’s worth checking out.

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