Jonathan Demme was a man for small towns and back roads. He liked those pockets of America where there was fun to be had, at a bargain price, and weakness to be gently laid bare. Hence his penchant for Melvin Dummar, a near-loser with a wish list of hopes, and for the tallness of Melvin’s tale. Whether the Howard he came across, that night in the desert, really was Howard Hughes, as legend insists, was not the sort of conundrum to bother Demme, and I doubt if he gave a damn whether the infamous ‘Mormon will’ — in which, years later, Hughes allegedly left more than a hundred and fifty million dollars to Melvin in gratitude for his Samaritan deed, like a mega-Magwitch rewarding Pip — was the genuine article or a fake.

“What Demme knew for certain, because his grip on our everyday fears and fancies was so secure, is that we want to believe Melvin, and that Melvin, the poor dope, wants to believe himself. The stories that we tell, in other words, may not always be true, and yet they are true of us, and that will have to do. The loss of Jonathan Demme is a sad surprise, for the films that he bequeaths to us remain, to an uncommon degree, the work of a good man.” — from Anthony Lane‘s “The Loss of Jonathan Demme,” 4.29.17, The New Yorker.

No Melvin and Howard Bluray as we speak, and no high-def streaming version either. Just a DVD, and who wants to watch a movie at 480p?