In 1981, CBS aired a television movie called, “Bill.” Based on a true story, Mickey Rooney plays a mentally handicapped man named, Bill Sackter. He meets a would-be screenwriter named, Barry Morrow. Together, they form a close friendship. The movie earned positive reviews from critics and viewers alike. Mickey Rooney ultimately won a Golden Globe and Emmy for his performance as the titular character. Bill made a national impact helping people with mental disabilities very seriously. Two Years Later, a sequel called, “Bill: On His Own” aired in 1983 (exact same year Scarface came out) on CBS. Unlike the first movie, the sequel didn’t earn the same positive impact. The real Bill died five months before the film aired.
Keep in mind, this is a short review. Bill: On His Own is not a complex psychological thriller like “Memento.” Just a low stakes true story. So, bear with me. Don’t forget to check out my article about my thoughts on Bill.
Positive & Negative Qualities
Mickey Rooney did an amazing job for his performance as Bill Sackter.
Dennis Quaid also did an amazing job for his performance as Barry Morrow.
A then unknown Helen Hunt did a good job for her performance.
Barry Morrow himself wrote the script.
Cinematography never had any glitches.
Chemistry between Bill and his new friend Jenny serves as the main highlight.
A recap of the first movie will help you remember how Bill became good friends with Barry and how he became the owner of “Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop.”
My favorite line from Bill is “I hang my caps on a wall!” Mickey deserves Bonus Points for his acting chops. It’s a shame he’s no longer around. He would’ve been excellent in a Christopher Nolan film.
Bill discovers his religious roots. Don’t worry, no religious agenda didn’t feel forced.
Like the first movie, the second one will make you cry. No offense, I never shed a tear.
Before the end credits start, the movie dedicates the real Bill’s memory.
Negative: A plot point involving Bill’s landlord Mae trying to pay off a mortgage didn’t keep me invested. The only thing I cared about is Bill trying to save enough money to reunite with Barry while trying to make it on his own. I think the mortage felt shoehorned to squeeze the movie’s running time.
The Final Verdict: A-
Bill: On His Own is not terrible nor a disappointment. Although nearly flawless like its predecessor, I thought it was great. If haven’t seen both the first and second entries, I highly recommend them. Don’t forget to watch the documentary, “A Friend Indeed: The Bill Sackter Story.”
Rest In Peace Mickey Rooney & Bill Sackter. Your legacies will never be forgotten.