- Box Office Bomb: The relatively low budget of $1 million was far from being fully recovered, as audiences didn't respond well and Universal pulled it from theaters after just two weeks.
- Creator Killer: Dennis Hopper was a rising star during the 1960s, but the massive success of Easy Rider in 1969 (which he co-wrote, directed, and starred in) catapulted him onto the A-list and left him carte blanche to pursue his choice of projects. His follow-up film was such a critical and commercial disaster that Hopper couldn't even get another acting job in Hollywood until 1976, when Francis Ford Coppola offered him what would turn out to be a career-reviving role in Apocalypse Now, released in 1979. However, this film did completely kill his writing and directing careers; 1988's Colors was the only significant movie that he directed after that, and he never wrote another screenplay.
- Dyeing for Your Art: Dennis Hopper shed thirty pounds and shaved his moustache and shoulder-length hair to play the lead role.
- Follow-Up Failure: Easy Rider established Dennis Hopper as a wunderkind. This film got him blackballed from Hollywood for years.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: The infamy kept it out of the home video marketing after a VHS release in the 1980s. It only came out on DVD in Europe, with Dennis Hopper planning a remastered release after getting the rights back in 2006, but not being able to do so before his death in 2010. Arbelos Films eventually made a Blu-ray in 2018.
- Production Posse: Along with Peter Fonda, other Easy Rider alumni in this feature include Toni Basil and Warren Finnerty as well as editor, Henry Jaglom.
- Romance on the Set: Dennis Hopper had a fling with Michelle Phillips, who had a small role as the Banker's Daughter.
- Saved from Development Hell: Dennis Hopper conceived the film already in the mid-1960s, and as mentioned below in What Could Have Been, he even wanted Montgomery Clift to play Kansas.
- Star-Derailing Role: Dennis Hopper only got a few small roles through The '70s after this film, before having a Career Resurrection with his role in Apocalypse Now.
- Troubled Production: Dennis Hopper's eagerly awaited follow-up to Easy Rider turned out to be drug-fuelled disaster that almost destroyed him. It managed to avoid the two most common problems in film production by ending on schedule and not going over budget, but by then Hopper and the crew had gone wild and highly intoxicated in Peru (mostly on the local cocaine - more detail here) to the point the local government had spies infiltrated seeking an excuse to kick the Americans out of the country. Post-production was probably even worse, as it took a year for Hopper to edit forty hours worth of footage into a two-hour film and was constantly changing the message he wanted to convey, and the end result wound up a critical and commercial disaster (though it won the Critics' Prize at the Venice Film Festival, and received some reappraisal over the years). Within the space of eighteen months, Hopper had gone from industry saviour to unemployable rebel.
- What Could Have Been:
- While editing the film in New Mexico, Dennis Hopper gave Alejandro Jodorowsky, who just had a cult success with his surreal cult feature El Topo, the chance to create a more experimental edit of his film. He did, but Hopper later rejected it and created his own final version. Hopper still acknowledged the artistic influence of Jodorowsky on the final version.
- Hopper offered Jack Nicholson the lead role. Nicholson would later say, "We had some conversations about it, but Dennis wanted to play the part himself." He later offered the role to Willie Nelson and John Wayne.
- When Hopper originally conceived the film in the mid-1960s, he wanted Montgomery Clift to play Kansas. Clift died before production began.
- Jane Fonda was considered for Maria.
- Jennifer Jones was considered for Mrs. Anderson.
- Jason Robards was offered the role of Pat Garrett.
- Working Title: Chinchero.
- Write What You Know: The main premise of the film - indigenous natives enacting a movie-making ritual - is based on Dennis Hopper's experiences while filming The Sons of Katie Elder in Mexico, in which he observed the locals doing the same thing. Hopper originally wanted to shoot in Mexico, too, but the production was finally moved to Chinchero, Peru.
Trivia / The Last Movie