Too Hot to Handle (1960 film)

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Too Hot to Handle
AKA: Playgirl After Dark (USA)
Too hot to handle02.jpg
United States release poster
Directed by Terence Young
Produced by Selim Cattan
Phil C. Samuel
Written by Herbert Kretzmer
Harry Lee
Starring Jayne Mansfield
Leo Genn
Karlheinz Böhm
Christopher Lee
Danik Patisson
Patrick Holt
Music by Eric Spear
Cinematography Otto Heller
Edited by Lito Carruthers
Distributed by Warner-Pathé Distributors
Release date
December 1960 (UK)
12 January 1961 (USA)
Running time
90 min
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Too Hot to Handle (released in the United States as Playgirl After Dark) is a 1960 British neo-noir gangster thriller film, starring Jayne Mansfield and Leo Genn. Directed by Terence Young, later involved with some of the early James Bond films. Christopher Lee appears in a small role in the film.


The plot revolves around Johnny Solo (Leo Genn), the owner of the Pink Flamingo club in London's Soho area, and his battles with rival club owner Diamonds Dielli (Sheldon Lawrence) and the police. When the tough entrepreneur starts getting threats and demands for protection, he fights back.

Johnny's girlfriend Midnight Franklin (Jayne Mansfield), one of the club's headliners, wants to get him 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.

The reporter gets involved in the strip scene while writing a story on the clubs, and in the end he has quite a lot to write about. The competition between the two clubs heats up. Johnny becomes an unknowing instrument in the death of the chorus girl. Midnight informs on him to save his life from the violent blackmailers after him. Both rival clubs head for a crash.

Main cast[edit]

Actor Role
Jayne Mansfield Midnight Franklin
Leo Genn Johnny Solo
Karlheinz Böhm Robert Jouvel
Christopher Lee Novak
Danik Patisson Lilliane Decker
Patrick Holt Inspector West
Kai Fischer Cynthia
Barbara Windsor Ponytail


Too Hot to Handle was Jayne Mansfield's first film away from 20th Century Fox after achieving stardom in the mid-1950s. By 1960, however, Mansfield's box office popularity had faded, and Fox loaned her (as they did others) to foreign studios while they awaited a good film for her. This British drama is usually marked as the beginning of her descent into low-budget productions.

The film was billed as "an exposé of 'sexy, sordid Soho, England's greatest shame'".[1] Notorious in its day because Mansfield's risqué see-through clothing and racy musical numbers caused some controversy, holding up the American release until January 1961, while the sexiest frames were fully displayed in Playboy magazine. For its American releases, Too Hot to Handle was retitled Playgirl After Dark and was mildly edited to meet America's censor requirements. Halliwell's Film and Video Guide describes the film as a "rotten, hilarious British gangster film set in a totally unreal underworld and very uncomfortably cast."[2]

While filmed and released in Eastman Color, the VHS and DVD editions are in black-and-white for unknown reasons.


  1. ^ Willetts, Paul (4 April 2013). The Look of Love: The Life and Times of Paul Raymond, Soho's King of Clubs. Profile Books. p. 185. ISBN 1-84765-994-2. 
  2. ^ John Walker (ed) Halliwell's Film & Video Guide 2000, London: HarperCollins, 1999, p.848

External links[edit]