Melvin and Howard

( 1 )

Overview

Jonathan Demme's breakthrough movie featured the shaggy energy and affection for marginal American eccentrics that marked his earlier Citizens Band 1977 and such later films as Something Wild 1986 and Married to the Mob 1988. Melvin Dummar Paul LeMat is a barely-getting-by Nevada milkman. One day in the early 1970s, while driving down a lonely highway, Melvin picks up a shaggy, bearded bum Jason Robards Jr. and offers him a ride into town. Melvin gives the bum a quarter at the end of the ride, and that, so far as...
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Overview

Jonathan Demme's breakthrough movie featured the shaggy energy and affection for marginal American eccentrics that marked his earlier Citizens Band 1977 and such later films as Something Wild 1986 and Married to the Mob 1988. Melvin Dummar Paul LeMat is a barely-getting-by Nevada milkman. One day in the early 1970s, while driving down a lonely highway, Melvin picks up a shaggy, bearded bum Jason Robards Jr. and offers him a ride into town. Melvin gives the bum a quarter at the end of the ride, and that, so far as Melvin is concerned, is that. The story goes off on a new tangent, involving the on-and-off marriage between Dummar and his contest-happy wife Lynda Mary Steenburgen. During one of the multitude of financial crises endured by the Dummars, Melvin discovers that the tramp he picked up was none other than billionaire Howard Hughes -- and when Hughes dies, Melvin inherits $150 million. The movie's wide acclaim included Oscars for Steenburgen and Goldman's script and New York Film Critics Awards in almost all major categories, including Best Picture and awards for Demme, Goldman, Steenburgen, and Robards. Demme would gain even greater attention in the 1990s as the director of The Silence of the Lambs 1991 and Philadelphia 1993.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
One critic called Jonathan Demme's wistful, strange comedy "an almost flawless act of sympathetic imagination" and compared it to Jean Renoir directing a script by Preston Sturges. Actually, it was the fertile imagination of screenwriter Bo Goldman that concocted the story of Melvin Dummar (Paul LeMat), a Nevada milkman who picks up reclusive billionaire hitchhiker Howard Hughes (Jason Robards Jr.). According to this woolly tale, Dummar later inherits $150 million when Hughes dies. Goldman and Mary Steenburgen, who played Dummar's contest-obsessed wife, won Oscars for this slice of eccentric American life, which put Demme on the map as a director. It was his first big-budget job, and he infused plenty of whimsy and picaresque touches, helped greatly by Robards's and LeMat's off-kilter performances. It presaged by a few years Demme's similarly colorful road movie, Something Wild.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/14/1999
  • UPC: 013131090932
  • Original Release: 1980
  • Rating:

  • Source: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • Presentation: Collectors Edition / Wide Screen
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Paul Le Mat Melvin Dummar
Jason Robards Jr. Howard Hughes
Mary Steenburgen Lynda Dummar
Jack Kehoe Jim Delgado
Michael J. Pollard Little Red
Dabney Coleman Judge Keith Hayes
Pamela Reed Bonnie Dummar
Gloria Grahame Mrs. Sisk
John Glover Attorney Freese
Charles Napier Ventura
Elizabeth Cheshire Darcy Dummar
Melvin E. Dummar Bus Depot Counterman
Susan Peretz Chapel Owner
Danny Dark "Easy Street" Announcer
Martine Beswicke Real Estate Woman
Charlene Holt Mrs. Worth
Melissa Williams Sherry Dummar
Rick Lenz Melvin's Lawyer
Joe Ragno Attorney Maxwell
Anthony Alda Terry
Gene Borkan 1st Go-Go Club Owner
Sonny Davis Milkman George
Herbie Faye Man Witness
Denise Galik Lucy
Gary Goetzman Melvin's Cousin Fred
Brendan Kelly Milkman Ralph
John Levin Reporter
Hal Marshall Hal
Melissa Prophet Easy Street Model
Robert Ridgely Wally Williams
Cheryl Smith Patient Ronnie
Kathleen Sullivan Reporter
Chip Taylor Clark Taylor
Danny Tucker Milkman Pete
Jack Verbois Holdup Man
Shirley Washington Patient Debbie
Robert Wentz Justice of the Peace
Technical Credits
Jonathan Demme Director
Michael Chinich Casting
Tak Fujimoto Cinematographer
Bo Goldman Screenwriter
Don Heitzer Asst. Director
Bruce Langhorne Score Composer
Art Linson Producer
Craig McKay Editor
Terry Nelson Associate Producer
Don Phillips Producer
Toby Carr Rafelson Production Designer
David Ronne Sound/Sound Designer
Richard Sawyer Art Director
William Scharf Sound Editor
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Quirky stuff

    Jason Robards might have won his third Oscar for this movie, but it went to Timothy Hutton. Mary Steenburgen did win however, and deservedly so. Hers is one of the best-ever supporting performances. This movie is offbeat and humorous and makes you think about the reality of chance (Was that bum REALLY Howard Hughes? Am I REALLY getting all this money?) and the manic nature of everyday events. It makes you question what ''luck'' is.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews