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The Hot Spot is a American drama film directed by Dennis Hopper and starring Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, and Jennifer Connelly.

Based on the book Hell Hath No Fury by Charles Williams, the film's soundtrack features a score by Jack Nitzsche played by John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis, Taj Mahal and Roy Rogers.


Drifter Harry Madox takes a job as a used car salesman in a small Texas town. In the summer heat, he develops an interest in a couple of hot women, one who works at the car dealership and another who is married to its owner.

Gloria Harper is a young, innocent-seeming woman with a secret. It somehow involves a sleazy local man named Frank Sutton who appears to have some hold on her.

Dolly Harshaw is a seductive, anything-goes femme fatale married to George Harshaw, the car dealer. She keeps a gun handy and likes to have sex in unusual, dangerous ways.

Harry carries on with both while looking for an opportunity to rob the local bank.

It ultimately is revealed that Sutton has nude photographs of Gloria, taken from a distance at a remote lakeside setting. Harry lies in wait for Sutton one night and viciously beats him.

Dolly begins to see Harry as her ticket to better things. When she coaxes her husband into bed, it is only to bring George's weak heart to a fatal end.

A sheriff arrests Harry, suspecting him in the bank job, but can't prove it. Harry decides to leave town with Gloria by his side, but Dolly puts an end to that by revealing to Gloria everything else Harry has been doing in town, including her.



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 Festivalmarker. 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 for the film is composed by Jack Nitzsche and features an original collaboration between John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis, Taj Mahal and Roy Rogers. Allmusic describes the soundtrack album as "marvelous music ... something listeners should be thankful for, particularly fans of either Miles Davis or John Lee Hooker". 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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