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USA 1980
Directed by
Jonathan Demme
95 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Melvin And Howard

Melvin And Howard is the fact-based story of Melvin Dummar, a Utah gas station owner who claimed that a mysterious stranger left a will by Howard Hughes naming him heir to a $156 million legacy.

Scripted by Bo Goldman (who took out an Academy Award for it) the film is a genially amusing entry in the trailer-trash category that at its best is an understated satire on the American Dream, tellingly encapsulated mid-stream with a mock television talent contest. It loses comedic steam however, once the so-called will is discovered, bogging down in telling Dummar's version of the story before wrapping things up rather unsatisfactorily with a few end-titles. 

In the lead Paul LeMat, an actor who never again managed to get so close to the sun, plays the chronic loser, Melvin, Jason Robards,brifefly appears as the supposed Howard Hughes and Mary Steenburgen, who picked up the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, Melvin's first wife. The real Melvin Dummar appears as the bus station counter-hand.




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