Min and Bill (1930): Marie Dressler Star Vehicle

Vet actress Marie Dressler, a legendary performer of vaudeville and theater, won the 1930 Best Actress Oscar for playing a dockside innkeeper in Min and Bill, directed by George W. Hill, and based on Lorna Moon’s novel “Dark Star,” adapted by Frances Marion and Marion Jackson.
The serio-comic melodrama, which is extremely short (only 66 minutes),  centers on Min’s efforts to protect the innocence of her adopted daughter Nancy, while loving and fighting with boozy fisherman Bill (Wallace Bery), who resides at the inn.
The cast also includes Dorothy Jordan as Nancy, the girl abandoned by her mother, and Marjorie Rambeau as Bella, Nancy’s ill-reputed mother.
This film was a huge commecrcial hit, making Marie Dressler into one of the most popular stars in the U.S. for several years. MGM cashed in on the success with the 1933 feature Tugboat Annie, which reteamed Dressler and Beery in similar roles.
By today’s standards, Dressler and Beery make an unlikely screen couple, but at the time, viewers rejoiced at the sight of the two vet actors (both hammy), especially their comic sequences together.
For two-three years, Beery was MGM’s highest paid actor; he had a clause in his contract that stipulated that he be paid at least one dollar per year more than any other actor at the studio.
Marie Dressler received another Best Actress oscar nomination for “Emma,” made a year after “Min and Bill.”
Dressler, who died in 1934 (from cancer), is also fondly remembered for her roles in Anna Christie (1930), starring garbo in her first talkie, and in Cukor’s witty comedy, “Dinner at Eight,” in 1933, in which she has a wonderful exchange with Jean Harlow.
Jean Harlow: “I was reading a book the other day. Do you know that they guy said that machinery is going to take the place of every profession.”
Marie Dressler: “Oh, my dear, that’s something you need never worry about.”
Oscar Alert
Oscar Nominations: 1
Best Actress
Oscar Awards: 1
Best Actress
Oscar Context:
In 1930, Dressler won the Oscar in a contest that included Marlene Dietrich in “Morocco,” Irene Dunne in “Cimarron,” which won Best picture, Ann Harding in “Holiday,” and Norma Shearer in “A Free Soul.”
Marie Dressler as Min Divot
Wallace Beery as Bill
Dorothy Jordan as Nancy Smith
Marjorie Rambeau as Bella Pringle
Donald Dillaway as Dick Cameron
DeWitt Jennings as Mr Groot
Russell Hopton as Alec Johnson
Frank McGlynn as Mr Southard
Gretta Gould as Mrs Southard
End Note
Jack Kerouac, in On the Road, has his protagonist Sal Paradise compare Dean Moriarity and his second wife Camille to Min and Bill, due to their contentious if also loving relationship.