MIN AND BILL (1930). Director: George W. Hill.
Min (Marie Dressler) runs a dockside boarding house and Bill (Wallace Dressler) is one of her tenants, with whom she has an "understanding." However, misunderstandings crop up when an old friend from Min's past, Bella Pringle, shows up. Bella (Marjorie Rambeau) is the prostitute who left her daughter Nancy (Dorothy Jordan) in Min's care years ago. Min told her the girl died just to keep Nancy away from her mother's negative influence, and will do just about anything to keep the slatternly woman from ruining Nancy's life. Trying too hard to be "cruel to be kind," Dressler's character is rather unpleasant in this. She's so anxious for the girl to go off and be happy that she makes her feel she doesn't love her (a ploy that probably occurs only in Hollywood movies); in fact she treats her quite horribly. And she doesn't really give the real mother much of a chance. Whatever the faults of the story --and there are many -- this study of misguided maternal devotion works because of the acting. Rambeau, Beery, and Jordan are top of the line, and Dressler won the Best Actress Oscar.
Verdict: Worth watching for that cast. ***.