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Melvin and Howard (1980)

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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

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
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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

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A true story? See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 September 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Melvin (and Howard)  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first film in the sub-genre "biopic of someone undeserving" or "BOSUD" from Dennis Bingham's "Whose Lives Are They Anyway? The Biopic as Contemporary Film Genre". Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski later popularized this notion in their screen-writing for Ed Wood (1994), Auto Focus (2002), Man on the Moon (1999), and The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996). See more »

Goofs

When Melvin and Howard are driving the pickup truck into Vegas during the movie opening the drivers side headlight is out. When Howard is driving the truck during the closing both headlights are operating. 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 Hard Eight (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Performed by Ray Conniff
Courtesy of CBS Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Overlooked gem.
15 April 1999 | by (warren michigan) – See all my reviews

1980 was one of Hollywoods' true 'golden years'( the strongest was, probably 1939, and the weakest was-probably- 1956.) Everyone remembers such great films as Raging Bull, The Elephant Man, Ordinary People, and Coal Miners daughter, but there were other, overlooked or nearly overlooked films. Of these, the finest was, beyond a doubt, Melvin and Howard.Based on a twentieth century addition to American folklore( the improbable saga of Howard Hughes and Melvin Dummar), Jonathan Demmes' film tells the story of a chronically unsuccessful Everyman, Melvin Dummar, who claimed to have unknowingly picked up Howard Hughes one night in the Nevada desert, and who also claimed to have been written into Hughes' will. Demme uses these materials to fashion a parable about the American dream and human aspiration.It is funny, superbly acted ( Robards probably deserved a third Oscar, and Mary Steenburgen fully deserved hers), well written, and profoundly human. Melvin Dummar may not have actually picked up Hughes in the desert, and the will may have been a forgery, but his life story does tell some important truths about the meaning of life.


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