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  • "Bill" is a wonderful TV-movie, one of the best ever made. It doesn't have flashy sets; it doesn't have special effects; it's set in Minnesota and Iowa in the dead of winter, not very exciting or scenic places. What it does have is one of Mickey Rooney's best performances, and unarguably one of the most sweet, poignant and winning characters he's ever played. He won the Golden Globe for his performance, and it's easy to see why.

    The film is based on Barry Morrow, an independent filmmaker who happened to run across Bill, an older man who was thought to be mentally challenged, and started doing a documentary on his life. Along the way Barry discovered that Bill was as smart as anyone else, but that he'd been locked up in a mental institution since he was 5 years old and treated as if he was mentally handicapped. Bill's early life isn't touched on in more than a random way, but what we do hear is terrifying; abuse of a normal child on a grand scale. Abuse so bad that Bill can only survive by acting like the rest of the inmates. When Barry takes Bill back to the institution to film a segment, Bill's reaction is pitiable.

    Barry is played by Dennis Quaid in one of his early roles, and he's great in some scenes, merely passable in others. Luckily, the great scenes outnumber the passable ones. The rest of the cast are good with the exception of Largo Woodruff, who plays Barry's wife. She is alternately pouty, nasty, spoiled-rotten or smiley, with no subtleties in-between. She is the only drawback to the film; if she had only downplayed some of her more dramatic scenes she would have been much easier to take. However, she doesn't harm the movie in any real way; it's all Rooney's film and he's the reason to watch it. A sequel was made several years later with Mickey reprising his role and Helen Hunt playing the college student who took Bill under her wing. It is more of a routine TV movie; Mickey is good but the story doesn't have the magic of the first.

    This film deserves to be seen more than it is. It's especially right for the Christmas season, since the real Bill loved to play Santa. This is a family staple in our house and we watch it every Christmas, marveling at just how magical "Bill" is.
  • OkieKris27 June 2005
    I saw this movie for the first time when I was about 12 years old. I had grown up around older people, but no one with disabilities. At the beginning of the movie I remember feeling sorry for Bill, however, by the end of the movie I felt sorry for the people who didn't know Bill or have a Bill in there life. After watching this movie, I became more aware of the people around me with disabilities and befriended several. I finally began working with the developmentally disabled in my 30's and my life has never been richer. This movie was such an eye opener for me and I highly recommend it to everyone. I've watched this movie with my eldest nephew and plan to watch it with the other children in my family so that they know people with disabilities are just as capable and deserving of respect and not to be frightened of. This is a MUST see for EVERYONE!!!!
  • Actually I think I should apologize to Micky Rooney for personally thinking of him as I first encountered him. Andy Hardy. Even with his rolls in Boy's Town, National Velvet and The Human Comedy, I could never take him as a serious actor. Watching his performance as "Bill" was one of the truly outstanding portrayals I ever saw. I now saw Mickey as a consummate artists of his trade. I'm sorry it took me fifty years to really see it. The story of Bill and the Bills' like him is happening all over the world. Just this year, the county I live in closed the County Home. There were two people who were just the type that "Bill" was. Thinking of this story makes be wonder what will become of them. I would like to see the movie replayed again to help folks to be more aware that our communities have this problem. Mickey Rooney played this with such warmth, skill and awareness that I say THANK YOU for your eye opening characterization of Bill.
  • cricket12329 January 2001
    I found "Bill" to be a very good movie. It was very tear jerking. I think that Mickey Rooney did an awesome job in the portrayal of Bill. I would recommend this movie to anybody. I rate it as a 10. It would of been very hard for Mickey Rooney to do that role. My thumbs go up to him,the writer and the director of that movie. Everyone involved deserves a pat on the back.
  • I remember watching this movie the first time it aired on TV. I believe it aired on CBS. I loved it! And the sad part was I never watched it again. I never see the movie being played on any network or TV station.

    Twenty years later I'm listening to radio "shock jocks" OPIE & ANTHONY. They mentioned the movie. Making fun of the movie when Bill touches most of the chicken at the family dinner. I couldn't stop laughing. I had to get a copy of this movie. Hello eBay! Now, thanks to eBay, I'm able to watch this classic over and over. My friend loves to watch it to. We can repeat most of the lines.

    Why is this movie a classic? The hair piece? Bill making his first cup of coffee? Bill playing with Clay on the floor? Bill's two dollar good luck piece? Crack mined old man? The chicken touching? The social worker threatening to send Bill back to Grandville? Bill trying to use a pay phone? I would have to say all of the above.

    Since I've watched the movie over 100 times I'm now an expert on Bill. He has a nice way about him. He's kind. He loves all religions. He doesn't care if you make tons of money or if you're a homeless person. He has this quality I can't pinpoint. You just have to love Bill. Understand where he came from. But don't ever mention Grandville to Bill or he will bolt! During the movie Bill does wear one ugly hair piece. The piece reminds me of the one Norman Bates used in "Psycho" when he played his mother.

    This movie will make you cry and laugh. Really laugh! Editor's note: This movie plus the second Bill movie called "Bill On His Own" are required movies to watch if you listen to Opie & Anthony. These jocks are now heard coast-to-coast via XM RADIO.
  • This movie deals with a mentally retarded man who was just released from a mental hospital his name is, Bill. (Mickey Rooney) A film maker named Barry Morrow (Dennis Quaid) and his wife Bev (Largo Woodruff) are going to soon have a baby. Barry makes a film about Bill and tries to sell it to a company. They soon move to Iowa to take a job offer and feeling bad for Bill they take him with them. This movie is a very sad drama based on a true story. It wone two awards for the sensational performances! Pick this movie up! I give it a 10 out of 10!
  • I just saw this movie again after many years. I always remembered seeing it on TV and it left me with such a lasting impression. It had been so many years, that when I just watched it I cried all over again like it was the first time I had ever seen it. I have been watching some of the Andy Hardy films lately, and I think that Mickey Rooney was an under-appreciated actor. I know that there are some negative things on the 'Message Boards', but all I can say is my one meeting with him was very positive- My son's class went to see him in the production of the 'Wizard of Oz' at Madison Square Garden where he played the Wizard. He was gracious to everyone, especially the children. For me it was a dream come true. If you are a fan of Mickey Rooney and have never seen this film, please do... you will love it. The sequel, 'Bill on his Own' is also a wonderful film. I would recommend you seeing both to complete the experience of seeing Mickey in his Emmy Award winning role!
  • Absolutely the best of all films ever made about mental retardation, even better than the great Charly. A simple but touching story of a challenged man trying to get through life on his own, with all the childlike fun and laughter, all the love to and from accepting friends, and all the immense frustration of just trying to get by from day to day with a deck always stacked against him. Bill was not a fairy tale film like Forrest Gump was, or a distortion of the real truth about autistic sufferers as was Rain Man, but a realistic story about a lovable little man with a tough disorder but lots of guts that had me laughing and crying in about equal doses but caring deeply all the way. What more can we want from any entertainment? See this film to laugh and to cry and ultimately to revel in the achievements of man not cowed or even slowed by misfortune.

    Has there even been a multi-tasking Hollywood talent to equal Mickey Rooney's? Surely not, and he has many times over the years been judged by his peers to be the most talented pro in Hollywood. I heartily agree. He is a very old man now and will be gone soon, so try to appreciate some of his great work before that time comes. Start with Bill and get ready to be fascinated.
  • This was such a great movie and Mickey Rooney Was wonderful. We also loved the sequel "Bill On His Own".I don't understand why it hasn't been played on television once in a while. I would love for my younger kids and grandkids to see this! It was heart breaking but shows what a person can do if they try.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This simple film tells the heart-warming tale of William "Bill for short" Sachter, a fifty-three year old mentally handicapped man who is trying to adjust to life in the real world after spending forty-six years in a horrible institution called Granville. Bill is helped by a young, budding film maker who feels that this odd man's story would make a very interesting documentary. Soon the two become good "buddies", and Barry (Dennis Quaid) finds himself becoming more and more involved in Bill's welfare.

    Anthony Page tells this touching and heart-rending story with perfectly judged simplicity and understatement, while the film's real power comes from Mickey Rooney, whose wonderful performance as Bill will warm your heart and truly move you.

    A good support cast and great film editing touch off a moving show which really does belong to the genius of veteran actor Rooney.

    Sunday, February 13, 1994 - T.V.

    There are so many fine qualities in Anthony Page's wonderfully understated drama about the relationship between film-maker Barry Morrow and mentally challenged man Bill Sachter.

    One could rave about the astute editing which allows the film to flow so well, or the cinematography which captures Iowa so crisply. Art Direction is also a big plus, as is the screenplay which was based on the true story captured on Morrow's home video tape, tentatively titled "The Bill Show".

    There are of course fine support performances, especially from Dennis Quaid - as the would-be film director who seizes on what he considers a unique opportunity to make a very different documentary, yet soon finds himself getting more and more involved in Bill's tragic life - and Largo Woodruff, Morrow's faithful and ever supportive wife. But there's no doubt who the film belongs to, and that's Mickey Rooney. The veteran actor delivers what is undoubtedly the performance of his life in a deeply moving and often very funny portrayal of a simple man who just wants to live a normal life with his new found "buddy", Barrry. Rooney seems a natural for the part of William "Bill for short" Sackter, and his innocence and sincerity will surely capture your heart.

    Anthony Page has richly rewarded his television audience (what a shame it didn't make the cinema screen) by keeping the proceedings simple and focusing the attention on the brilliance of Mr. Rooney. Please be sure you don't miss this heart warming drama or it's sequel : "Bill : On His Own".

    Saturday, November 26, 1994 - T.V.
  • batzu7 December 2002
    i remember this movie well. first off, it really is a good story, and a true story at that. i think a documentary would have served the real Bill Sackter a little better. apparently this may happen yet. as far as Mickey Rooney goes, you really believe he is retarded. a good performance, and to his credit he did this before it was all the rage for actors to play retarded people. it seems this is the true test of an actor these days, from an "i really want an award" stand point anyway. it seems to be that last ditch effort for the self consumed actor (ie Sean Penn.) as a juvinile i watched this movie and really enjoyed it for the heartwarming/goody feely qualities it evokes, but i also thought that Rooney as Bill was hilarious. the bad hair piece, the harmonica, and the strained old man voice saying "i'm a regular good man buddy" was hilarious. me and my friends were saying that stuff for weeks cracking each other up. the sequal "Bill: On His Own" is even better as we have a host of actors playing retarded people, most notably Edie McClurg as one of Bill's house mates. so if you like a movie that warms the heart and makes you feel good, that gives you hope and makes you think "wow, if Bill can make it so can I!", or if you think actors playing mentals is ridiculous and funny, this is the movie for you. tell me Rain Man wasn't funny as hell (written by barry marlow, the real life friend and caretaker of Bill Sackter.)

    also see: My Left Foot, Forrest Gump, I Am Sam, Charlie, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Other Sister
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Mickey Rooney I think won an Emmy over this movie. As it shows him living in a place where they treat him like a number. And how a kind photographer and filmmaker played by a very young Dennis Quaid saw him more than that.

    As Quaid's character wants to take Bill, who has lived in a home for the mentally challenged all of his life. And not knowing what it is like in the real world.

    Really a touching and a moving film. As we all seem to have grown up with Mickey Rooney. As he has been around for such a long time. Despite the condition that Bill grew up with and he can't help it at all.

    Shows that people like that are humans. As they just need to be handle with extra and tender care.
  • An amateur documentary film maker takes a little old man, Bill, for subject. The man is mentally ill. They learn respect while knowing each other's secret. Story of good intentions, but this is truly a minor league TV B-Movie. Settings are awful, actors others than the two stars are mediocre. Veteran Mickey Rooney portrays a warm man and provides very good acting. That's the only reason to watch this.