Edit
Melvin and Howard (1980) Poster

Trivia

Jump to: Cameo (1) | Director Cameo (1) | Spoilers (1)
Jason Robards was nominated for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar for playing Howard Hughes in this movie. It was the third time in five years that Robards had been nominated in this category at the Academy Awards. The first two times, in 1977 and 1978, Robards had achieved the extraordinary feat of winning back-to-back Oscars. The films Robards won consecutive Academy Awards for were Julia (1977) and All the President's Men (1976).
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".
6 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The name of the succession document left on Melvin's desk was the "Last Will and Testament of Howard Hughes". This paperwork later became informally known as "The Mormon Will".
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The amount of money that Howard Hughes (Jason Robards) allegedly left Melvin E. Dummar (Paul Le Mat) in his will was US $156 million.
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
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.
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
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).
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The name of the television game show was "Easy Street". The real life TV game-shows that it was a fictional amalgam of were The Gong Show (1976) and Let's Make a Deal (1963). The amount of money that Lynda Dummar (Mary Steenburgen) won for tap-dancing to The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" on the show was US $10,000.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
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".
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Jack Nicholson turned down the role of Melvin Dummar, though he did pass on the script to Mary Steenburgen.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Actor Jason Robards was the third actor to play Howard Hughes in a full length movie. In the three years prior to this film, Victor Holchak had been the second in Hughes and Harlow: Angels in Hell (1977) whilst Tommy Lee Jones had been the first in The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977).
5 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Jason Robards portrayed Howard Hughes in this movie. In real life, Hughes' middle name was "Robard".
5 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The picture won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Film of 1980.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Actress Mary Steenburgen won several Best Supporting Actress Awards for this movie. These included the Academy Award (Oscar), the Golden Globe Award, the New York Film Critics Circle Award, the National Society of Film Critics Award and the Boston Society of Film Critics Award.
4 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
At the beginning of the film, Melvin Dummar sings a song that he has penned, "Santa's Souped Up Sleigh." He tells Howard Hughes that he sent the words - along with a sum of money - to the Hollywood Music Company, an outfit that puts its customers' song lyrics to music for a fee. Although Melvin doesn't realize it, the tune that the company used is not an original one: they paired his lyrics with the melody of "Wabash Cannonball."
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The closing credits state that "This picture was filmed entirely on location in California, Nevada and Utah where the events actually occurred".
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
According to Halliwells, the picture has often been compared to the films of Preston Sturges.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
According to the DVD sleeve notes, the film was "inspired by the true-life story of a Utah service station owner who appeared on Howard Hughes' will".
2 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Howard Hughes (Jason Robards) only appears in the opening scenes at the start of the movie and briefly through flashback at the film's end.
1 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Final film of actor Herbie Faye who played a man witness.
0 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The movie's opening title card read: "Desert outside Tonopah, Nevada".
0 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The film's Melvin and Howard (1980) title refers to the characters of Melvin Dummar (Paul Le Mat) and Howard Hughes (Jason Robards).
0 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Along with Fighting Mad (1976), Handle with Care (1977), and Last Embrace (1979), this picture was one of the first studio films of director Jonathan Demme who had previously made B-movies for Roger Corman's New World Pictures.
0 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Cameo 

Melvin E. Dummar: The real life "Melvin" as a man behind a bus depot counter.
9 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Director Cameo 

Jonathan Demme: As a man at the wedding.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

The film's closing epilogue states, "Howard Hughes died in April, 1976. The 'Mormon Will' was thrown out of Clark County Superior Court in June, 1978. Lynda is a housewife and lives with her husband Bob in Golden Grove, California. Melvin and Bonnie live in Willard, Utah where Nelvin drives a delivery truck for Coors Beer. A will acceptable to the courts has yet to be found".
3 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page