Melvin and Howard Film Details
Overview: The story of hard-luck Melvin E. Dummar, who claimed to have received a will naming him an heir to the fortune of Howard Hughes.
Tagline: Poor Melvin. All he wanted was to be Milkman of the Month. Instead, he lost his job, his truck, and his wife. Then Howard Hughes left him $156,000,000.
Review: The actual story the film is based on: In 1968, four years before reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes died, he was reported to have had an encounter with a good-natured blue collar worker, Howard Dummar. Dummar picked up Hughes when he was stranded on the side of a Las Vegas road and gave him a ride to Las Vegas. When Hughes died,he bequeathed money to Dummar as a reward for his good deed. Unfortunately, Hughes’ estate and the Nevada courts found Hughes’ story too unbelievable to be true and Dummar never got the money. The movie itself is well-intentioned and it truly has interesting characters. An actor I’ve never heard of before in my life, Paul Le Mat, plays Dummar with an innocent “aw shucks” attitude that endears him to the audience and strengthens our opinion of him as the rightful heir. He lets himself get easily seduced by an older female customer when he’s delivering milk and when the woman who turns out to be his second wife makes suggestive innuendo at him, he says “Bonnie, aren’t you a Mormon girl?” His first wife Linda, who was the focus of my attention on this film based on the fact that the only thing I knew about the film was that it was Mary Steenburgen’s Academy-award winning role, was an interesting character: underneath the guise of her provocative clothing and desire to be a dancer (be it exotic or tap), she’s equally innocent and oblivious to the world around her. Except for the one scene in which Bonnie seduces Howard, she’s woefully underdeveloped and there’s very little reason to be happy to see her and Howard at the end of the film together. The film wants us to feel that it’s Bonnie’s struggle as well that the press is hounding her and her husband is under national scrutiny because she’s his wife, but because of the way marriages were coming and going in the subculture that Paul lived in and the initial chemistry between Linda and Howard, I was kind of hoping that Bonnie was just a temporary road stop en route back to Linda. Never mind that in REAL LIFE, Howard and Linda didn’t get back together, if that was the case, the chemistry or story arc between the two needed to be strengthened up front. Another woefully underdeveloped relationship, which is the key to the story and its title, “Melvin and Howard.” The story, or the most interesting part of it, was all about Melvin’s inheritance of Howard’s money, and that only came back in the last 20 minutes of the film as a sort of epilogue to the story of Melvin’s unsuccessful marriage to Linda. In short, the film never really knew what it was about: A man’s failed on-again off-again marriage, an almost complete portrait of a man who would go on to become a footnote in history, or the story of a man’s controversial claim to inheritance.
Country: United States
Duration: 95 min
Genre: Comedy, Drama
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