Melvin and Howard (1980)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  19 September 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 3,362 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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Won 2 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 9 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


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 »


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?


Melvin E. Dummar:  The real life "Melvin" as a man behind a bus depot counter. See more »


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 »


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 »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Glenn Close/Black Crowes (1992) See more »


Tennessee Stud
Written by Jimmie Driftwood
Performed by Eddy Arnold
Courtesy of RCA Records
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.

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

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