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Genres: Comedy , Drama
Actors: Jason Robards , Paul Le Mat , Elizabeth Cheshire , Mary Steenburgen , Chip Taylor , Melvin E. Dummar , Michael J. Pollard , Denise Galik , Gene Borkan , Lesley Margret Burton , Wendy Lee Couch , Marguerite Baierski , Janice King , Deborah Ann Klein , Theodora Thomas
Director: Jonathan Demme
Country: United States
Year: 1980
IMDB Rating: 6.9/10 (2621 votes)

This movie tells the possibly true story of Melvin 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!

Film Review

I agree with the above review. Not a bad movie, but very oddly paced and organized. The best part is an amazing opening shot. 1980 also included Ordinary People, Raging Bull, Coal Miners Daughter, Elephant Man, etc so it’s odd that this one for both screenplay (Bo Goldman) and supporting actress (Mary Steenburgen), neither of which make any sense in retrospect. The screenplay is NOT good, nor is Steenburgen’s silly performance. What’s more odd is that she many awards from various organizations. A very inaccurate title, this has about 8 minutes of total Howard Hughes screen time, which is great Jason Robards. The rest is sometimes clever, always silly, and usually frustrating. Melvin Dummar is just not a movie unto himself. However, the Milkman song he sings to win the love of his future (and current) wife is great.

When I look at a film like this, I see America. This is what a lot of those 'Working' people that politicians tend to smugly refer to them in the abstract are like, just struggling, trying to get by, a lot of Melvin Dunbarrs out there. And this is an interesting 'nobody/loser' kind of guy, since he picks up an old bum one night who claims to be Howard Hughes, and then doesn't think much of it… until years later when, after the old codger dies, leaves 158 million dollars to him as one of his beneficiaries. Finally some luck floats Poor Melvin's way, but at what cost? The movie actually should be called 'Melvin', but then how does one market that without people thinking it's about a nerd or something? And yet the 'Howard' of the title is a little of a misnomer – rather, Jason Robards playing the famous aviator and mogul, is there only for the introduction at the start, and then (spoiler) isn't really seen again. It's the…