Melvin and Howard (1980)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  19 September 1980 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.9/10 from 3,366 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 16 critic

The story of hard-luck Melvin Dummar, who claimed to have received a will naming him an heir to the fortune of Howard Hughes.



Watch Trailer
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

Won 2 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

This movie interlaces the stories of several characters in a small town united by their use of CB (citizen's band) radio. Paul LeMat is the local CB coordinator who has time for little else... See full summary »

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Paul Le Mat, Candy Clark, Bruce McGill
Swing Shift (1984)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A woman finds romance when she takes a job at an airport plant to help make ends meet after her husband goes off to war.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Christine Lahti
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A free-spirited woman "kidnaps" a yuppie for a weekend of adventure. But the fun quickly takes a dangerous turn when her ex-convict husband shows up.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Jeff Daniels, Melanie Griffith, George 'Red' Schwartz
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Spalding Gray tells about his participation in the film, "The Killing Fields" & the background story about the troubles of Cambodia.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Spalding Gray, Sam Waterston, Ira Wheeler
Last Embrace (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Harry breaks down and loses his job after his wife is assassinated - could it be his turn next ?

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Roy Scheider, Janet Margolin, John Glover
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

An undercover FBI agent falls in love with a recently widowed mafia wife seeking to start her life over after her husband's murder and who is also pursued by a libidinous mafia kingpin seeking to claim her for himself.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Michelle Pfeiffer, Alec Baldwin, Paul Lazar
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

When his apartment building is torn down, a retired lifelong New Yorker goes on a cross country odyssey with his beloved cat Tonto.

Director: Paul Mazursky
Stars: Art Carney, Ellen Burstyn, René Enríquez
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Three middle-aged wealthy couples take vacations together in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Along the way we are treated to mid-life, marital, parental and other crises.

Director: Alan Alda
Stars: Alan Alda, Carol Burnett, Len Cariou
Fighting Mad (1976)
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

An Arkansas farmer stages a one-man war against corrupt land developers who want to evict him and his neighbors from their farms for real estate developments.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Peter Fonda, Gino Franco, Harry Northup
The Stunt Man (1980)
Action | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A fugitive stumbles on a movie set just when they need a new stunt man, takes the job as a way to hide out, and falls for the leading lady.

Director: Richard Rush
Stars: Peter O'Toole, Steve Railsback, Barbara Hershey
Crazy Mama (1975)
Action | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Jonathan Demme directs this joyous relentlessly kitschy celebration of 50's America: opportunity, rock'n'roll, and the road. He follows three generations of women and the men they pick up, ... See full summary »

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Cloris Leachman, Stuart Whitman, Ann Sothern
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  
Director: Jonathan Demme


Cast overview, first billed only:
Elizabeth Cheshire ...
Darcy Dummar
Chip Taylor ...
Clark Taylor
Melvin E. Dummar ...
Bus Depot Counterman
Little Red
Gene Borkan ...
Go-Go Club Owner #1
Lesley Margret Burton ...
Go-Go Dancer
Wendy Lee Couch ...
Go-Go Dancer
Marguerite Baierski ...
Go-Go Dancer
Janice King ...
Go-Go Dancer
Deborah Ann Klein ...
Go-Go Dancer
Theodora Thomas ...
Go-Go Dancer


This movie tells the possibly true story of Melvin Dummar. Melvin is a nice guy, but he is a total loser: unlucky, impractical and can't keep a job. One night, however, he helps an old man who has had a motorcycle accident in the desert. Melvin laughs when the old man says he is Howard Hughes, the eccentric multimillionaire. But when Howard Hughes dies, Melvin is mailed a will leaving him part of the estate! Written by Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A true story? See more »


Comedy | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 September 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Melvin (and Howard)  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Actor Jason Robards was the third actor to play Howard Hughes in a full length movie. In the three years prior to this film, Victor Holchak had been the second in Hughes and Harlow: Angels in Hell (1977) whilst Tommy Lee Jones had been the first in The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977). See more »


At the end of the truck ride to Vegas, Hughes doesn't know how to open the passenger door from the inside, but in Dummar's flashback at the end of the movie (when Hughes gets to drive the truck), Hughes has no trouble opening the door. See more »


Lynda Dummar: C'est la vie.
Melvin Dummar: What's that?
Lynda Dummar: French, Melvin. I used to dream of becoming a French interpreter.
Melvin Dummar: You don't speak French.
Lynda Dummar: I told you it was only a dream.
See more »


Version of Howard Hughes: His Women and His Movies (2000) See more »


Love Can't Hold a Ramblin' Man
Written and performed by Danny Darst (as Daniel Dean Darst)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Quirky Film Deserves A Look
18 April 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Here's a strange tale of a couple and their on-and-off again marriage and the stupid things they do.....and the eventual flak over money billionaire Howard Hughes supposedly left the man.

Paul LaMat plays the husband and supposed beneficiary. He's just fun to watch, a likable, never-loses-his-cool kind of guy. Mary Steenburgen plays his wife and kind of surprised me by how much skin she showed, not the usual scenario with her. Both of them are somewhat low-lifes. Heck, even Hughes (Jason Robards) is pictured to look kind of scummy character in here. Then again, his last years on this earth were a bit strange!

It's a fictional story but those of us who remember, there WAS a lot of flak over the will of Howard Hughes. Despite this being on the grungy side (typical for movies between 1970-1981) this is still an appealing film in a sweet kind of way.

One thing for sure: it's different. Well worth a look.

23 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Was Melvin telling the truth? joanbrazas
Why R? And3ww
Gloria Graham olblueeyes40
This story is in the news djhunnicut
Great Movie grhmb
Bate Brothers scene??! enicolau1
Discuss Melvin and Howard (1980) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: