Melvin and Howard (1980)


No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...


Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Outside Las Vegas, truck driver, milkman and aspiring songwriter Melvin Dummar gives a ride to a desert drifter who claims to be billionaire Howard Hughes. Several years later, Melvin produces a will that names him as an heir to the Hughes fortune!

Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Bo Goldman
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 12, 1999



as Melvin Dummar

as Howard Hughes

as Lynda Dummar

as Jim Delgado

as Darcy Dummar

as Clark Taylor

as Bus Depot Counterman

as Little Red

as Mrs. Sisk

as Bonnie Dummar

as Judge Keith Hayes

as Attorney Maxwell

as Attorney Freese

as Ventura

as TV Master of Ceremon...

as Chapel Owner

as Mrs. Worth

as Sherry Dummar

as Melvin's Lawyer

as Easy Street Announce...

as Real Estate Woman

as Go-Go Club Owner #1

as Go-Go Dancer

as Go-Go Dancer

as Go-Go Dancer

as Go-Go Dancer

as Go-Go Dancer

as "Easy Street" Singer

as Patient Ronnie

as Justice of the Peace

as Witness

as Reporter

as Milkman George

as Milkman Ralph

as Holdup Man

as Milkman Pete

as Patient Debbie

as Patient Ronnie

as Chief Thundercloud

as Melvin's Cousin Fred

as Easy Street Model

as Clark Taylor
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Melvin and Howard

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (5)

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | September 7, 2010
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 11, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Shambling yet delicate, Demme's screwball tall tale gazes at TV contests and novelty ballads and sees not derisive kitsch but the warm connective tissue of human yearning

Full Review… | July 29, 2013

Audience Reviews for Melvin and Howard

After picking up a random hitchhiker who claims to be Howard Hughes, a truck driver goes on with the rest of his boring life until he finds out that Hughes left him a fortune.
This film should be called Melvin because Howard appears for ten minutes and his presence is felt for about twenty. And the problem is that Melvin is a terribly boring character. He has a job problem and a love problem, but these aren't interesting conflicts, and frankly, Melvin is a douche. When he gets Howard's inheritance in the final act, it's a stroke of good fortune for a guy who could've withered away without anyone noticing.
Overall, I'm surprised that Jonathan Demme is capable of Philadelphia and Silence of the Lambs but also capable of this and Rachel Getting Married.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

"Melvin and Howard" is a charming but mediocre dramedy based on fact. Melvin Dummar is a Utah man (he is still alive) who claimed in 1976 to have received a hand-written will authored by Howard Hughes, in which he, Dummar, was named one of the beneficiaries of Hughes's estate.

This happened just four years after another man, Clifford Irving, claimed to be collaborating with Mr. Hughes (who died in 1976) on an authorized autobiography. Hughes, who by then was a complete recluse, eventually came out publicly and stated that Irving's story was a hoax. This triggered a wave of fascination with hoaxes and forgeries. (See Orson Welles's terrible 1973 semi-documentary "F for Fake," which contains a lot of footage of Irving.)

"Melvin and Howard" presents the Dummar story as if it were true. Bo Goldman, who won an Oscar for the screenplay, imagines what Dummar's life must have been like. Mary Steenburgen, who won a Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in the film, plays Dummar's wife.

Goldman and director Jonathan Demme (this was Demme's sixth film) present Dummar and his wife as semi-retarded. But somehow it comes across as an affectionate portrayal.

There's a lot that's charming about the film. It captures the milieu of down-and-out Western folk as well as "Five Easy Pieces" did, but with more comedy than tragedy. But both the comedy and drama are pretty light. I just kind of sat there limply watching it. Almost everything about it is flaccid.

(Just incidentally, 1980 was the year of "Raging Bull," "Coal Miner's Daughter," "The Elephant Man," and "Ordinary People," which won the Oscar for Best Picture -- four of my all-time favorite films. What a good year for film.)

Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

I am on a huge Robards kick here lately. He gives another amazing performance and he's not even in half the movie. Paul LeMat is great as Melvin whose life is one of the most entertaining train wrecks I have had the pleasure of watching. Mary Steenburger is outstanding as Le Mat's twice married and then twice divorced wife. (The scene in the strip club and on the game show are hilarious). I thought the writing and direction were really well done and I see how Demme influenced directors like PTA. It's quirky (in a good way), funny, sad, with a great anti hero at the center that you hate one minute and end up respecting at the end. A nice gem of a movie that I highly suggest everyone see.

Tim Sigur

Super Reviewer

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