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Melvin and Howard (1980)

Director:
Jonathan Demme

COUNTRY
USA

Genre
Drama/Comedy

NORWEGIAN TITLE
Millionærarvingen

RUNNING TIME
95 minutes

Producer:
Art Linson
Don Phillips

Screenwriter:
Bo Goldman


Cast includes:

CHARACTER ACTOR/ACTRESS RATING
Melvin Dummar Paul Le Mat ½
Lynda West Dummar Mary Steenburgen
Bonnie Bonneau Dummar Pamela Reed
Little Red Michael J. Pollard
Jim Delgado Jack Kehoe ½
Judge Keith Hayes Dabney Coleman -
Ventura Charles Napier -
Howard Hughes Jason Robards

 

Review

Jonathan Demme (later of Silence of the Lambs) directed this award-winning look at working-class life in 1970s small-town USA. Paul Le Mat plays Melvin Dummar, a chronically broke but always hard-working underachiever who once gave a disoriented Howard Hughes (Jason Robards) a ride to Las Vegas after the eccentric millionaire had allegedly had an accident riding his motorcycle in the desert. Demme balances his film elegantly on the fine line between realistic biopic and urban legend; perhaps because he is more interested in the trials and tribulations of the people he portrays than the narrative which is the basis for the story. Le Mat's earnest, businesslike performance makes Melvin seem almost like a child in a world of grown-ups. But he's also so resourceful that there's no reason to feel sorry for him, and Demme never does. He respects these people for their ongoing quest to create a better future for themselves in the midst of what the film claims is a rigged system. And the comedy, which is so subtle that you hardly realize it's there, never pokes fun at them. Melvin and Howard is a well-made black comedy with an uncurable optimism.

Copyright © 22.03.2021 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang

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