Melvin and Howard (1980)

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Jonathan Demme directs Paul Le Mat, Jason Robards and Mary Steenburgen in this true tale of a milkman who picked up billionaire Howard Hughes on the side of the highway one night and a decade later was seemingly awarded millions in the dead mogul’s will. 

The hook is fascinating whether you believe Melvin Dummar’s contested story or not. Yet that’s not the meat of this. Demme is more interested in the low rent misfortunes, romances and graft of Dummar’s life in the intervening decade. The shabby hopeful existence of a beautiful dreamer with no common sense. The car ride with a dishevelled historical figure (Robards – who in a few scenes steals the film) and the circus around the will’s discovery are mere bookends that hold up a biography of a life of little note but plenty of magic.

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