Melvin and Howard (1980) - Rotten Tomatoes

Melvin and Howard (1980)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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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:
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Universal

Cast

Paul Le Mat
as Melvin Dummar
Jason Robards
as Howard Hughes
Mary Steenburgen
as Lynda Dummar
Jack Kehoe
as Jim Delgado
Elizabeth Cheshire
as Darcy Dummar
Chip Taylor
as Clark Taylor
Melvin E. Dummar
as Bus Depot Counterman
Michael J. Pollard
as Little Red
Gloria Grahame
as Mrs. Sisk
Pamela Reed
as Bonnie Dummar
Dabney Coleman
as Judge Keith Hayes
Joe Ragno
as Attorney Maxwell
John Glover
as Attorney Freese
Charles Napier
as Ventura
Robert Ridgely
as TV Master of Ceremonies
Susan Peretz
as Chapel Owner
Charlene Holt
as Mrs. Worth
Melissa Williams
as Sherry Dummar
Rick Lenz
as Melvin's Lawyer
Danny Dark
as Easy Street Announcer
Martine Beswick
as Real Estate Woman
Gene Borkan
as Go-Go Club Owner #1
Lesley Margret Burton
as Go-Go Dancer
Wendy Lee Couch
as Go-Go Dancer
Marguerite Baierski
as Go-Go Dancer
Janice King
as Go-Go Dancer
Deborah Ann Klein
as Go-Go Dancer
Theodora Thomas
as Go-Go Dancer
Elise Hudson
as "Easy Street" Singer
Cheryl Smith
as Patient Ronnie
Robert Wentz
as Justice of the Peace
Naida Reynolds
as Witness
Herbie Faye
as Witness
Sonny Carl Davis
as Milkman George
John Levin
as Reporter
Brendan Kelly
as Milkman Ralph
Jack Verbois
as Holdup Man
Danny Tucker
as Milkman Pete
Shirley Washington
as Patient Debbie
Rainbeaux Smith
as Patient Ronnie
John Thundercloud
as Chief Thundercloud
Antony Alda
as Terry
Gary Goetzman
as Melvin's Cousin Fred
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Melvin and Howard

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (1)

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
CinePassion

A limp biopic with wooden performances and an uninteresting premise.

Full Review… | August 15, 2011
Cinema Sight

The most engaging portrayal of Howard Hughes on film is not by Howard Hughes -- it's by Jason Robards, Jr. in Melvin and Howard.

Full Review… | July 6, 2010
tonymacklin.net

Some great, reverberant moments.

Full Review… | April 21, 2007
eFilmCritic.com

The film offers a bittersweet commentary about chasing the American Dream of monetary success abd mobility and the constant attempt to rise above one's situation by naive and optimistic charcaters, not fully aware of their class limitations.

Full Review… | October 4, 2006
EmanuelLevy.Com

Delightful in the affection it shows for its characters.

Full Review… | April 19, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

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
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.)

William Dunmyer
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

½

This movie weird-ed me out. Robards doesn't have much screen time though his character is part of the title. La Mat plays a really odd guy who I didn't understand much. And Mary Steenburgen plays a stripper!? She thinks she dances really well and supposedly everyone around her gives her positive feedback, but she doesn't. I guess it's kind of funny, but not really, to watch all these sad hopeless people.

Byron Brubaker
Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer

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