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203 Ratings

Melvin and Howard

Directed by Jonathan Demme
United States, 1980
Comedy, Drama


The story of hard-luck Melvin Dummar, who claimed to have received a will naming him an heir to the fortune of Howard Hughes.

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Melvin and Howard Directed by Jonathan Demme

Awards & Festivals

Academy Awards

1981 | 2 wins including: Best Actress in a Supporting Role

1981 | Nominee: Best Actor in a Supporting Role

The greatest strength of Melvin and Howard is that despite the tragedy of Melvin Dummar’s almost-riches, the film sustains a warm, doughy quality that casts these unfortunate prisoners of America’s ruthless capitalism as sympathetic through their imagination. The grass may not actually be greener on the other side, but in Demme’s America, one doesn’t need to feel ashamed for imagining what it might be like after all.
August 13, 2017
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Recalling a recent viewing of RICKI AND THE FLASH and watching MELVIN AND HOWARD for the first time in over a decade, it’s clear to me now that Demme had his finger on the pulse of American life in an unparalleled way, transcending the idea of Hollywood cinema and almost single-handedly embracing a distinctly American cinema, one whose narrative and technical nuances reflect spacious skies, amber waves of grain, and purple mountain majesties, all above fruited—albeit littered—plain.
July 28, 2017
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It’s an oddball, herky-jerk story that always zags when it ought to zig, but nonetheless builds to a rambling and rather wonderful portrait of the American Dream as dreamed by goodhearted small-timers: the milkmen and cocktail waitresses who go on game shows and live in trailers and get married a la carte in Vegas chapels.
April 27, 2017
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