On Disc

at Amazon

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

Director:

Writer:

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

Videos

Photos

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 | Romance
    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
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
Last Embrace (1979)
Mystery | Romance | Thriller
    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 | 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
Drama | Romance | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The movie centers on a piano competition whose winner is assured of success. It is Paul's last chance to compete, but newcomer Heidi may be a better pianist. Can romance be far away? Will ... See full summary »

Director: Joel Oliansky
Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Amy Irving, Lee Remick
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
Ragtime (1981)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A young black pianist becomes embroiled in the lives of an upper-class white family set among the racial tensions, infidelity, violence, and other nostalgic events in early 1900s New York City.

Director: Milos Forman
Stars: James Cagney, Elizabeth McGovern, Howard E. Rollins Jr.
A Wedding (1978)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The daughter of a Louisville truck driver marries the scion of a very wealthy family, but reception at the family estate is boycotted by the invited guests.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Carol Burnett, Desi Arnaz Jr., Paul Dooley
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
Director: Jonathan Demme
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Elizabeth Cheshire ...
Darcy Dummar
...
Chip Taylor ...
Clark Taylor
Melvin E. Dummar ...
Bus Depot Counterman
...
Little Red
...
Lucy
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
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

A true story? See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 September 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Melvin (and Howard)  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

One of writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson's favorites films. Actor Jason Robards' final cinema movie was Anderson's Magnolia (1999). The photography in Anderson's The Master (2012) is said to have been inspired by this picture. See more »

Goofs

While the men are in the truck talking, a sandwich being eaten has the bite area alternately changing from one side of the bread between shots. See more »

Quotes

Melvin Dummar: Now listen buddy, you wanna do me a favour?
Howard Hughes: Depends on what it is.
Melvin Dummar: I wrote this song...
Howard Hughes: NO!
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

The Windmills of Your Mind
Music by Michel Legrand and English lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Performed by Henry Mancini and His Orchestra
Courtesy of RCA Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Wistful film is so lovely it is almost a fluke...
19 October 2006 | by (las vegas, nv) – See all my reviews

Winning combination of scattershot comedy and wry, wistful drama tells the (alleged) true story of a milkman with big dreams and no money who is curiously named a recipient in the will of multi-millionaire Howard Hughes. Melvin Dummar (played by Paul LeMat, in a terrific performance) had been saying all along he once helped out an old guy in the desert near Las Vegas who claimed he was Hughes, but Dummar didn't really believe him (they had a nice chat anyway, and Melvin got Howard to sing one of his self-written novelty songs as well as "Bye Bye Blackbird"). Good-natured film directed by Jonathan Demme rarely loses its way, and features an endearing collection of screwballs who make the loopy craziness of the situations and dialogue immediate and real--their eccentricities are the roots of the story. Mary Steenburgen won a Supporting Oscar as Dummar's first wife, a dreamer like Melvin who is far less satisfied with struggling and who just wants to amount to something (but to Melvin, the struggles are the best part). Jason Robards is perfect as Hughes; the normally bombastic actor takes a small role and lets it bloom subtly and beautifully for us, giving the movie a misty hue and making all of Melvin's hopes sweetly credible. ***1/2 from ****


9 of 12 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:
?