6.9/10
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Melvin and Howard (1980)

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

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

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Cast

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

This movie tells the possibly true story of Melvin E. 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

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Poor Melvin. All he wanted was to be Milkman of the Month. Instead, he lost his job, his truck, and his wife. Then Howard Hughes left him $156,000,000. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

19 September 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Melvin (and Howard)  »

Filming Locations:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In real life, Melvin E. Dummar did not receive the $156 million. According to Wikipedia, "While working at a service station in Willard, Utah, Dummar claimed to have discovered a disheveled and lost man lying on the side of a stretch of U.S. Highway 95 about 150 miles (240 km) north of Las Vegas, Nevada, near Lida Junction. Hughes asked Dummar to take him to the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. Dummar claimed that only in the final minutes of their encounter did Hughes reveal his identity". The will was "was eventually rejected by the Nevada court in June 1978 as a forgery. The court declared that Hughes had died intestate" and "Dummar was largely discounted by the public as a phony and an opportunist". Moreover, "Dummar's claims [have] resulted in a series of court battles which have all ruled against Dummar". See more »

Goofs

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 »

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

Referenced in The Bad Boys of Saturday Night Live (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Bye Bye Blackbird
(uncredited)
Music by Ray Henderson
Lyrics by Mort Dixon
Performed by Jason Robards
See more »

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User Reviews

Best Film of the 80's
26 October 1999 | by (Reno) – See all my reviews

Everyone thinks Raging Bull is the best film of the 1980's, but Melvin and Howard holds up better for me. Paul Le Mat should have been nominated for an Oscar, and this film should have made him a star. It's such a waste that Le Mat isn't used in more films.

At least Mary Steenburgen's excellent performance didn't go unnoticed -- she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Bo Goldman's cleverly constructed, highly nuanced script won another Oscar.

Director Jonathan Demme went on to greater success and acclaim with Silence of the Lambs, but he achieved something special with Melvin and Howard. Most directors would play Melvin Dummar's story for easy laughs, and while Demme finds humor in the material, he also explores with depth and sensitivity how the American Dream has failed some of its most ardent aspirants.


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