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HOT SPOT, THE (director: Dennis Hopper; screenwriters: Nona Tyson/Charles Williams/based on the novel ”Hell Hath No Fury” by Charles Williams; cinematographer: Ueli Steiger; editor: Wende Phifer Mate; music: Jack Nitzsche; cast: Don Johnson (Harry Madox), Virginia Madsen (Dolly Harshaw), Jennifer Connelly (Gloria Harper), Charles Martin Smith (Lon Gulik), William Sadler (Frank Sutton), Jerry Hardin (George Harshaw), Barry Corbin (Sheriff), John Hawker (Uncle Mort); Runtime: 130; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Paul Lewis; Xenon Pictures; 1990)
“Lazily made neo-noir that sinks its teeth into the genre’s cliches with limited success.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Dennis Hopper (“Easy Rider”/”The Last Movie”/”Colors”) directs this lazily made neo-noir that sinks its teeth into the genre’s cliches with limited success. It’s based on the 1953 novel ”Hell Hath No Fury” by Charles Williams.

Handsome, well-dressed, smoothy con man, drifter, Harry Madox (Don Johnson), arrives in the small dusty Texas town of Taylor, and immediately snags a salesman job through guile in the used-car lot of the middle-aged George Harshaw (Jerry Hardin). To beat the heat, Madox visits the strip joints and is seduced by his boss’s trampy sexpot much younger wife Dolly (Virginia Madsen) and attracted to the sad-eyed troubled 19-year-old sweet virginal office worker Gloria Harper (Jennifer Connelly).

Dolly tells the hunk there are ‘only two things to do, and one of them is watching TV.’ Harry finds a third. He robs the unprotected local bank, after causing a fire a few blocks away.

At two hours and ten minutes Hopper never keeps things sizzling long enough to warrant taking in all the sleaze for that long. The film might effectively convey the noir conventions as it uncovers the nasty secrets of the small town that include robbery, blackmail, adultery and murder, but while going about its formulaic business a torpor sets in due to the lethargic pacing.

William Sadler has a small but well-played role as a creepy cowboy hat wearing blackmailer, who tells Madox with a wink “Chicken don’t always lay its eggs in the same nest.”

REVIEWED ON 11/11/2009 GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”