hot spot

The Hot Spot

The Hot Spot is a 1990 American drama and romance film directed by Dennis Hopper and starring Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, and Jennifer Connelly. It's based on the book Hell Hath No Fury by Charles Williams. Its soundtrack features John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis, Taj Mahal and Roy Rogers.


Drifter Harry Madox (Don Johnson) gets a job as a local used car retailer in a small Texas town and looks for an opportunity to rob the local bank. Harry's boss' wife (Madsen) finds out about his plan and wants to use him for her own advantage, but problems arise when he also begins to fall in love with the accountant (Connelly) at work.


Charles Williams wrote a screenplay of his own novel with Nona Tyson in 1962. It was intended for Robert Mitchum. Many years later, Dennis Hopper found the script and updated it. The director described the film as "Last Tango in Texas. Real hot, steamy stuff". A bedroom scene originally called for Madsen to appear naked, but she decided to put on a negligee because she felt that, "Not only was the nudity weak storywise, but it didn't let the audience undress her". Hopper later admitted that Madsen was right. The director gave his impressions of working with Johnson: "He wasn't that bad. He has a lot of people with him. He came on to this film with two bodyguards, a cook, a trainer, ah let's see, a helicopter pilot he comes to and from the set in a helicopter, very glamorous let's see, two drivers, a secretary, and, oh yes, his own hair person, his own make-up person, his own wardrobe person. So when he walks to the set he has five people with him". Johnson found Hopper's approach to filmmaking "a little disappointing, I gotta tell you". Hopper shot the film in Texas during what he described as the "hottest, steamiest weather you could imagine".


The Hot Spot had its world premiere at the 1990 Toronto Film Festival. The film was released on October 12, 1990 in 23 theaters grossing USD $112,188 in its opening weekend. The film grossed only $1.2 million in the North America, far less than the cost of its production.

The Hot Spot received generally mixed reviews from critics and currently has a 67 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes. In her review for the New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote, "Mr. Hopper's direction is tough and stylish, in effective contrast with the sunny look of Ueli Steiger's cinematography". USA Today gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "In other words, Hopper's direction isn't any great shakes, and the wrap-up is somewhat confusing, but this film does make you want to go skinny-dipping with someone else's mate". In his review for the Washington Post, Desson Howe wrote, "Hot Spot will never go down as timeless, neoclassic noir. But, with its Hopperlike moments, over-the-top performances and infectious music, it carries you along for a spell".

Hopper was upset that Johnson did not promote the film and claimed that, "He says he's not going to do anything for this picture until he reads the reviews". Johnson claims that he was unable to do promotion because he was making a film with Mickey Rourke.


The soundtrack to the film is composed by Jack Nitzsche and features an original collaboration between John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis, Taj Mahal and Roy Rogers. A sample from one track, "Harry's Philosophy", was later used on "Sure Thing", a single from St. Germain's album Tourist.


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