Forgotten Friday Flick – “The Hot Spot”

Forgotten Friday FlickWith the weather hot as hell down here in sunny LA it brings to mind a sizzling screen gem that is ripe for resurrection – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  This week we’re take a sharp right turn into the mind of the late great Dennis Hopper as a director and what a mind trip it is.  A turbulent Texas tale of blackmail, bank robbery and plenty of beautiful babes ripe with scorn and sweetness, it’s a flick so sizzling that it divided critics right down the middle.  Ready for a little noir via the head games of Hopper – then let’s hit…The Hot Spot!

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Harry Madox is a man with confidence to spare.  He’s slick, good looking and a step ahead of everyone in life.  But upon arriving in a small Texas town he finds more than he bargained for when he takes a job as a local car salesman.  Seems there’s not only a very captivating secretary working right at the dealership, but the boss’s wife takes a fancy to Harry too.  Caught in a battle between two very sexy but utterly different gals, plus dealing with a sleazeball with a hidden agenda and possible bank robbery pressure, Harry must keep his head above water to make it out of town alive.


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With The Hot Spot being a savory exercise in keeping the audience guessing, the above description is as far as it goes in terms of details.  Hopper crafts his hot Southern noir outing with such a strong nod to the unpredictable that to know more is frankly a sin.  Everyone within his fictitious town has hidden secrets, agendas and desires that only reveal themselves when needed.  It’s a fabulous combination of story and style working in tandem to create a palpable world off the beaten path.  You could chock it up to Hopper’s years dabbling in mind-altering substances or the fact that the film used a script offered to Robert Mitchum in the 60’s, but whatever the case The Hot Spot truly hits the spot by daring to be different.


First and foremost Hopper’s cast provides equal parts character and charisma (and with a slow Southern drawl!) to give human heat to the piece.  As the dark drifter with a million dollar smile, leading man Don Johnson brings machismo and mood to Harry Madox, alluring one minute, ferocious the next.  Plus as the two polar opposite ladies in his life, Virginia Madsen adds her own strong feminine sex appeal as Harry’s vicious vixen counterpart, while Jennifer Connelly brings innocence and ravishing beauty to the woman Harry yearns to be with.  Plus Hopper wisely fills out the rest of his flick with quirky cast that adds wonderful to his weird including William Sadler as a slimy blackmailer, Jerry Hardin as Harry’s surly boss, Charles Martin Smith as a less than stellar fellow salesman and even a little Lynch inspired Jack Nance action with the Eraserhead star himself playing a bank manager with a slow streak.

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But all of the above work in tandem to make The Hot Spot what it is – good looking on the outside, odd on the inside.  It’s a style that Hopper wields with certain skill and can also be found in his visuals – picturesque and lush, but all the time under an umbrella of heat, sweat and intense pressure.  He also enhances it with an almost Cajun sounding score by Jack Nitzsche collaborating with music greats like Bluesman John Lee Hooker and Jazz master Miles Davis for maximum musical mayhem.  Such selections may seem like random choices, but Hopper’s world looks, sounds and feels just right – a striking piece of cinema that comes together nicely.

At the time of its release some critics and a lot the lead cast had reservations about the artistic merit of Hopper’s heated flick.  (Not by me of course!)  But even with time and a little retro-appreciation, I still say The Hot Spot is Hopper at his finest.  (In a recent interview I did with Virginia Madsen – click HERE – she admits as much!)  There’s way too much detail amongst what could be mistakenly seen as ravishing cinematic chaos to ignore.  The film is not unlike the music, characters and overall pressure cooker environment lovingly created by an original auteur way ahead of his time – hot.



I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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