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In this pilot for a proposed NBC adventurer series, Richard Anderson plays a worldly-wise American who is hired by the French national police to watch over American tourists and prevent them from getting in trouble.
In London's Soho, Johnny Solo runs the Pink Flamingo Club. He's tough to intimidate. So when he starts getting threats and demands for protection, he fights back. Behind the takeover plot is a competitor, Diamonds Dielli. Midnight Franklin, who's Johnny's girlfriend and one of the club's headliners, wants to get Johnny out of the business. In the background are a sadistic client, an underage chorus girl, a wisecracking siren who's not averse to rough trade, a visiting journalist, and a dancer who guards her past. Can Johnny win the struggle with Diamonds, and can Midnight get him out of harm's way? Written by
TOO HOT TO HANDLE was Jayne Mansfield's first film away from 20th Century-Fox after achieving stardom in the mid 1950's. This British drama is usually marked as the beginning of her descent into low-budget productions but actually despite being set almost entirely in a nightclub, it's clearly no cheapie with a large cast and somewhat lavish production numbers with solid direction from Terence Young who later did many James Bond films.
Jayne plays the lead in this ensemble picture as the headline attraction and longtime girlfriend of strip club owner Leo Genn who lately has been the recipient of several extortion attempts. Tough guy Genn is determined to fight back rather than give in much to Jayne's distress. Jayne sings two numbers including the title song performed in fairly transparent costume (reminscent of Marlene Dietrich's famous Las Vegas gown) that covers the basics but not much else. This number is badly shot with too many shots of the audience and not enough of Jayne although this may have been the work of the censors. The movie's American release was held up two years because of the racy numbers (finally released in 1962 as PLAYGIRL AFTER DARK) but today it could play on primetime TV and not raise an eyebrow although the numbers remain sexy.
Jayne generally looks gorgeous for the most but in a couple of scenes is not photographed well and in some scenes appears to be unusually plump (she may have been pregnant or had not yet lost post-baby weight, she was cranking out kiddies almost as often as movies during this period). She is appealing as always as the warm-hearted star of the show whose good love may all be for naught.
Give her credit too, for sharing the screen with a number of other lovelies among the showgirls and entertainers at the club. Beautiful brunette Danik Pattison gets almost as much screen time as Jayne as the loner, secretive showgirl and she has a sensational faux strip number set in a steamy train berth that still packs an erotic wallop. Barbara Windsor is cast as the "jailbait" showgirl, "Ponytail", who wants to grow up in the worst way. While Ms. Windsor is clearly not underage like her character, she effectively captures the simplistic foolishness of someone too young to understand the big picture. Ms. Pattison went on to have a career in the French film industry that lasted into the 1970's, Ms. Windsor later became quite well-known in England for her work in the "Carry on..." films and television programs and is still active today in the series "East Enders".
British star Leo Genn is very effective as the James Cagney-tough club owner while Christopher Lee does well as his right-hand man. The movie was filmed and released in Eastman Color but video and DVD prints are regrettably black and white. It was fairly common for B&W prints to be struck of color films to be shown on television during the 1960's and 1970's for local stations. Surely color prints of this movie must exist somewhere, hopefully eventually one will find it's way to DVD. This movie is a low-key effort but it still interesting and actually has a lot to offer with a fine performance by Genn, the warmth and glamour of Mansfield, and a number of other beautiful young women on parade in various stages of dress.
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