6.9/10
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37 user 23 critic

Melvin and Howard (1980)

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2:44 | Trailer

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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.

Director:

Jonathan Demme

Writer:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jason Robards ... Howard Hughes
Paul Le Mat ... Melvin Dummar
Elizabeth Cheshire ... Darcy Dummar
Mary Steenburgen ... Lynda Dummar
Chip Taylor Chip Taylor ... Clark Taylor
Melvin E. Dummar Melvin E. Dummar ... Bus Depot Counterman
Michael J. Pollard ... Little Red
Denise Galik ... Lucy
Gene Borkan Gene Borkan ... Go-Go Club Owner #1
Lesley Margret Burton Lesley Margret Burton ... Go-Go Dancer
Wendy Lee Couch Wendy Lee Couch ... Go-Go Dancer
Marguerite Baierski Marguerite Baierski ... Go-Go Dancer
Janice King Janice King ... Go-Go Dancer
Deborah Ann Klein Deborah Ann Klein ... Go-Go Dancer
Theodora Thomas 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 | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 September 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Melvin Dummar Story See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,309,490
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jason Robards portrayed Howard Hughes in this movie. In real life, Hughes' middle name was "Robard". See more »

Goofs

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 »

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

Soundtracks

Gone Dead Train
Written by Russ Titelman and Jack Nitzsche
Performed by Crazy Horse
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Wistful film is so lovely it is almost a fluke...
19 October 2006 | by moonspinner55See all my reviews

Winning combination of scattershot comedy and wry, wistful drama tells the (alleged) true story of a milkman with big dreams and no money who is curiously named a recipient in the will of multi-millionaire Howard Hughes. Melvin Dummar (played by Paul LeMat, in a terrific performance) had been saying all along he once helped out an old guy in the desert near Las Vegas who claimed he was Hughes, but Dummar didn't really believe him (they had a nice chat anyway, and Melvin got Howard to sing one of his self-written novelty songs as well as "Bye Bye Blackbird"). Good-natured film directed by Jonathan Demme rarely loses its way, and features an endearing collection of screwballs who make the loopy craziness of the situations and dialogue immediate and real--their eccentricities are the roots of the story. Mary Steenburgen won a Supporting Oscar as Dummar's first wife, a dreamer like Melvin who is far less satisfied with struggling and who just wants to amount to something (but to Melvin, the struggles are the best part). Jason Robards is perfect as Hughes; the normally bombastic actor takes a small role and lets it bloom subtly and beautifully for us, giving the movie a misty hue and making all of Melvin's hopes sweetly credible. ***1/2 from ****


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