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Melvin and Howard (1980)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  19 September 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 3,343 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.



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Title: Melvin and Howard (1980)

Melvin and Howard (1980) on IMDb 6.9/10

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Won 2 Oscars. Another 19 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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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
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Did You Know?


The text of the real life "Mormon Will" read: "Last Will and Testament I, Howard R. Hughes, being of sound mind and disposing mind and memory, not acting under duress, fraud or the undue influence of any person whomever, and being a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, declare that this is to be my last will and revolt [sic] all other wills previously made by me - After my death, my estate is to be devided [sic] as follows - First: one-forth [sic] of all my assets to go to Hughes Medical Institute of Miami - Second: one-eight [sic] of assets to be devided [sic] among the University of Texas - Rice Institute of Technology of Houston - the University of Nevada - and the University of Calif. Third: one-sixteenth to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - David O. McKay - Pre. Forth [sic]: one-sixteenth to establish a home for Orphan Children [sic] - Fifth: one-sixteenth of assets to go to Boy Scouts of America. Sixth: one-sixteenth to be devided [sic] among Jean Peters of Los Angeles and Ella Rice of Houston - Seventh: one-sixteenth of assets to William R. Lommis [sic] of Houston, Texas - Eighth: one-sixteenth to go to Melvin DuMar [sic] of Gabbs, Nevada - Ninth: one-sixteenth to be devided [sic] among my personal aids [sic] at the time of my death - Tenth: one-sixteenth to be used as school scholarship fund for entire country - the spruce goose is to be given to the City of Long Beach, Calif. The remainder of my estate is to be devided [sic] among the key men of the company's [sic] I own at the time of my death. I appoint Noah Dietrich as the executer [sic] of this will - Signed the 19 [sic] day of March 1968 Howard R. Hughes". 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 »


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 »


Referenced in Hard Eight (1996) See more »


My Kingdom for a Car
Written and performed by Phil Ochs
Courtesy of A & M Records
See more »

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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?

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