Jason Robards received his third and final Oscar nomination for portraying Howard Hughes in Melvin and Howard.
Jason Robards is only in the very beginning of the film as the mysterious old man Melvin comes across in the desert, and briefly at the end. The old man claims to be Howard Hughes, and apparently he really is. Robards has a brief role, but really a rather fascinating one. Robards plays the part as a bit of an enigma it is hard to tell what exactly the deal is with Hughes is.
Robards through his short scenes it is hard to tell what he is, and Robards effectively creates the mystery of this strange man. In the mystery though there is something you find out about Hughes from Robards, not a lot but just the right mount to keep his mysterious quality, but at the same time not make him overly ambiguous either. It is a difficult dynamic to pull off, but Robards manages to pull it off with ease.
There is clearly a slight bit of insanity going on inside his eyes, but as well as the history of Hughes is suggested as well. There is a definite history suggested there, a troubled one, but possibly a better one as well, as there is a certian charm Robards has that perhaps shows a indication of how Hughes use to be.
This is not an amazing performance, after all it is very limited by not only screen time but what he is allowed to do. He mostly just reacts to what Melvin does, and speaks out only a little about what he does. Robards does take what little he does have, and makes the most of it. It is not a great performance, but Robards does his best to leave a memorable impression.