Melvin and Howard (1980)


Plot: Melvin E. Dummar is a working class stiff who has been trying to find his professional place in life, he moving from job to job over his adult life as he hasn't been able to find anything to which he can stick. This life does wreak havoc on his marriage to Lynda Dummar, the two who live in a trailer park in the Nevada desert with their daughter, Darcy. Their possessions are routinely repossessed as Melvin has no concept of repayment of debt, always spending on those things he wants whenever they solely have the down payment. Their marriage is also not helped by Lynda's larger focus on wanting to be a dancer in whatever means rather than be wife and mother. These issues lead to an up and down marriage for the two, with Darcy often thrown between parents at a whim. One day, while Melvin is managing a gas station, he receives anonymously what looks to be the handwritten last will and testament for Howard Hughes, no other will which has been discovered following his death. Melvin received this document as years earlier, he picked up who he thought was solely a drifter in need in the middle of the night in the desert, that drifter who claimed to be Hughes, which at the time Melvin thought was just the rambling of a crazy old man. This will bequeaths Hughes' estate to a handful of people, with Melvin's share being $156 million. Melvin's actions following receipt of the will and public reaction as the story hits the media further affect Melvin's life as the authenticity of the will is questioned.

Alternative Plot: When luckless dreamer Melvin Dummar (Paul Le Mat) rescues a grizzled, half-dead man (Jason Robards) from the desert, he's skeptical of the man's claim that he's actually reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. But in the wake of Hughes' death a decade later, a will appears naming Melvin the recipient of $156 million, and a media circus ensues. Accused of forgery, Melvin vigorously maintains his innocence despite a strong intuition that he'll never see any of the money.

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