Travis McClain’s review published on Letterboxd:
This short film is included as a bonus feature with Bambi, which I didn't know until yesterday. I also didn't know that it won an Academy Award but sure enough, it did. In this, we spend a day and night with the animals who have taken up refuge in an abandoned mill. Among the critters is a pair of bluebirds awaiting the hatching of their offspring, some mice/rats (I can't be sure) and an owl that looks a whole lot like Bambi's Owl. Night falls and brings with it a fierce storm.
The big draw here is the animation of the storm. It's still impressive 75+ years later, but when you mentally place it beside any live action depiction of a storm in a film of its era, it becomes apparent almost immediately just why this would have wowed the Academy. For decades, live action storms consisted of some off-set gimmicks of lighting, fans blowing and fake rain. Very rarely were they remotely convincing. The Old Mill isn't photo-realistic; we know the entire time that we're watching animation. Yet there's a certain identifiable realness to what's on the screen that it rings true to us as a storm.
There's not much in the way of a plot or character development, but that's okay. Sometimes a short story can be merely an idea or a setting and if it's handled correctly, it's still satisfying. Such is the case with The Old Mill.
How The Old Mill Entered My Flickchart
The Old Mill < This Film Is Not Yet Rated --> #1469
I admire the animation of the storm in The Old Mill, but it wasn't as rewarding as the MPAA exposé.
The Old Mill > Holiday Inn --> #1111
The significance of the debut of "White Christmas" aside, I just wasn't taken with Holiday Inn. Going with The Old Mill here for its dazzling storm.
The Old Mill < The Darjeeling Limited --> #1111
The Darjeeling Limited just feels to me like Wes Anderson trying too hard to be Wes Anderson. Despite my complaints I admit there are enough elements that I enjoy that I can pick it here.
The Old Mill > Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas --> #1018
I can remember going to see Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, but nothing about the movie itself. That kind of hurts its chances against the impressive storm animation of The Old Mill.
The Old Mill < The Silence of the Hams --> #1018
My memory of The Silence of the Hams is fading, but I recall liking it the one night I watched late at night with my friends. That memory is enough for the win here.
The Old Mill > A Fistful of Dollars --> #995
I was underwhelmed by A Fistful of Dollars, though it has some nice moments. Going with The Old Mill here. Its animation is still impressive 75+ years later.
The Old Mill > Bats --> #984
I actually kinda dig Bats. I like Dina Meyer and I think the film has an enjoyable overall tone. Still, I'm picking the Oscar-winning short here. It's pretty impressive.
The Old Mill < Women in Trouble --> #984
I still feel misled by Netflix about Women in Trouble because it's not at all the exploitation film they made it out to be. However, I liked (most of) it and it gets the nod here.
The Old Mill < Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets --> #984
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets doesn't really advance the overall series very much, but it's intriguing and I get a kick out of Moaning Myrtle. It gets the nod.
The Old Mill > Young Mr. Lincoln --> #981
There are some things about Young Mr. Lincoln that are interesting, but a lot of it just feels like "aw, shucks" historical revisionism. Plus, we've now seen Daniel Day-Lewis resurrect Lincoln for the definitive screen version of our 16th President. Going with The Old Mill here.
The Old Mill entered my Flickchart at #981/1478
10th Academy Awards (1937)
(W) SHORT SUBJECT (Cartoon) -- Walt Disney, Producer