6.8/10
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37 user 27 critic

Melvin and Howard (1980)

Trailer
2:43 | Trailer
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
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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:
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

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$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

Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies. See more »

Goofs

The scene where Melvin and Linda are gambling in the casino, their young daughter is sitting with them. Minors are strictly forbidden in any casino gaming areas, especially next to the tables. See more »

Quotes

Lynda Dummar: It says you can be anything you want to be if you'll just believe in yourself. And you believe in yourself - it's just the believing hasn't been enough to let you become what you believe you can be.
Melvin Dummar: Honey, they didn't burn down Rome in one day - you got to keep pluggin'.
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Remembered this film from when it was first released - liked it then and now
10 October 2007 | by mrncatSee all my reviews

I saw this film back in 1980/81 when it was first released and liked it a lot then. Now have seen it again recently, and it still holds up. There is a certain joy of life depicted in this film that is in some ways also bittersweet (and yet refreshing). What is sad in some regards now is the realization upon seeing it again that the era of life portrayed here is now gone from the collective American psyche to some extent. That isn't to say the film is dated per se. It's just that Melvin isn't cynical at all and he doesn't seem to have a hateful bone in his body. He's neither a wimp nor a man of intellect but someone whose basic humanity emanates.

What helps the film, too, is the pairing of actors Paul LeMat as Melvin, and Mary Steenburgen as Melvin's wife, Linda -- they are an endearing couple.

I attribute the film's memorable tone and spirit to not only the actors (including Jason Robards & some of the supporting cast) -- I like to believe that director, Jonathan Demme, put his stamp on this, too. Now in retrospect am learning that the writer (Bo Goldman) probably deserves some kudos.


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