- Rated: R
- Closed captioning available
- Run Time: 1 hours, 35 minutes
- Video: Color
- Released: March 2, 2004
- Originally Released: 1980
- Label: Universal Studios
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Packaging: Keep Case
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Academy Awards 1980 -
Best Original Screenplay: Bo Goldman
Academy Awards 1980 -
Best Supporting Actress: Mary Steenburgen
Sight and Sound - 06/01/1981
"...MELVIN AND HOWARD retains an essential buoyancy and enthusiasm..."
New York Times - 09/26/1980
"...Sharp, engaging, very funny....Demme has assembled a cast of first-rate character actors..."
New York Times - 12/28/1980
Included in the New York Times "10 BEST FILMS OF 1980"
USA Today - 10/08/1999
"...[A] jewel....Demme's direction isn't showy, but it's potent in seemingly throwaway details..."
Rolling Stone - 03/18/2004
"[A] fable of rags-to-riches America that resonates more than ever."
Director Jonathan Demme (SILENCE OF THE LAMB) made a critical breakthrough with this film. It's based on the true story of Melvin Dummar (Paul Le Mat), an affable all-American loser whose miserable luck changes when he gives a ride to eccentric Howard Hughes (superbly played by Jason Robards) after finding him asleep in the Nevada desert. Following an extended opening scene of their journey to Vegas, the film dives into Melvin's messed-up trailer-park existence, which involves an unhappy wife (Mary Steenburgen), devoted daughter (Elizabeth Cheshire), and a string of thankless blue-collar jobs. Melvin turns out to be a crackpot dreamer, but his dreams seem to come true when he's named recipient of fellow crackpot Hughes' fortune in a mysterious hand-written will. The film flows as a stream of sharp comic moments via Demme's deft direction and affection for his characters. A nicely gritty look is achieved through Tak Fujimoto's photography at actual locations. A letter-perfect cast includes Dummar himself as a bus station attendant and Dabney Coleman as a Mormon judge. Bo Goldman (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST) wrote the award-winning screenplay.
Character Study |
Essential Cinema |
Rags To Riches |
Theatrical Release |
- Theatrical Release: September 19, 1980.
- Filmed on location in Las Vegas, Nevada.