Rent Expresso Bongo (1959)

3.2 of 5 from 57 ratings
1h 41min
Rent Expresso Bongo Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Synopsis:
"Expresso Bongo" takes the lid off the seedier side of showbiz! Cliff Richard plays Bongo Herbert, a young singer, playing for peanuts in Soho's sleazy clubs with its striptease snows, clip joints and teenage dens. He becomes an overnight success when taken up by wide boy showbiz agent Johnny (a brilliant performance from Laurence Harvey) but at what price? Cliff's first role is packed with punch and the great soundtrack includes the hit single Voice in the Wilderness and I've Never had It So Good. His co-stars include Yolande Donlan, as man-crazy American singer Dixie Collins and Sylvia Syms cast against type as a dancer in a strip show.
Actors:
, , , , , , , , , , Paula Barry, , Rita Burke, , , , , , ,
Directors:
Producers:
Val Guest
Writers:
Wolf Mankowitz, Julian More
Others:
Gordon Jackson
Studio:
Prism Leisure
Genres:
British Films, Classics, Comedy, Music & Musicals
Countries:
UK
BBFC:
Release Date:
10/10/2005
Run Time:
101 minutes
Languages:
English
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.78:1 / 16:9
Colour:
B & W
BBFC:
Release Date:
25/04/2016
Run Time:
111 minutes
Languages:
English
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 2.35:1
Colour:
B & W
BLU-RAY Regions:
B
Bonus:
  • Full-length theatrical version (111 mins): premiere of the original long cut from 1959
  • 1962 re-issue version (106 mins): shorter alternative cut which removed a number of songs Audio commentary for the 1962 re-issue version featuring Val Guest, Yolande Donlan and film historian Marcus Heam
  • Expresso Bongo Gallery: a selection of promotional material, including stills, theatrical posters and lobby cards
  • Original theatrical trailer (3 mins)
  • Youth Club (Norman Prouting, 1954, 17 mins): COI documentary about dealing with juvenile delinquency
  • The Square (Michael Winner, 1957, 16 mins): Michael Winner's touching debut, long-thought lost

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Reviews (2) of Expresso Bongo

Ersatz Coffee House Comedy. - Expresso Bongo review by Steve Mason

Spoiler Alert
03/12/2012

Film benefits from the safe hands on board of Wolf Mankowitz (writer) and Val Guest (director), and a crazy, out of control performance by Laurence Harvey as Johnny Jackson, a Soho showbiz manager of uncertain integrity and reliability. And accent.

Cliff Richard plays Bongo Herbert a coffee bar percussionist, ripe for exploitation by the cynical London music business, as represented by the strip clubs worked by Harvey's burlesque dancer girlfriend played by Sylvia Syms.

Fast, funny, motormouthed script, some early rock surliness, and chubby star quality from the young Cliff (the Shadows perform one song) make this favourful and entertaining period curio.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Curious period piece - Expresso Bongo review by RP

Spoiler Alert
20/08/2013

'Expresso Bongo' was originally a stage play, a satire on the music business. In this 1959 film version some elements of satire remain, but are overshadowed by an attempt to provide a vehicle for the talents of Cliff Richard.

Although somewhat overlooked today, Cliff is the most successful British pop artist with more Top 20 records to his name than anyone else - and he's been going for 5 decades, so he must have some talents. Unfortunately, those aren't on show here. Yes, he does get to croon a couple of numbers, more in the style of Ricky Nelson than in the 'British Elvis' rock 'n roll style by which he first came to fame, although he does curl his lip in the approved manner of the day. His acting is awful - and he just generally seems out of place,

As far as the music goes, the best is from Cliff's backing group 'The Drifters' (pre-Shadows). But the film isn't about music, it's about the music business and the squalid and dirty deals of small time agent Johnny Jackson (Lawrence Harvey) and music promoter Mayer (Meier Tzelniker). Lawrence Harvey is an actor that I can't usually stand - but his acting (and his jiving!) here was a eye-opener for me. Harvey is excellent and despite his dodgy accent which ranges from Jewish to South African via Cockney (despite his English sounding name he was Lithuanian via S Africa) his role is very well played, as is that of Meier Tzelniker.

There are some very peculiar things about this film. Why do the 'teenagers' look so old? Did they really go wild for such timid music back in the 1950s? And go wild in a coffee bar of all places? (Yes, I know that the reputed birthplace of British rock 'n roll was the 2i's Coffee Bar in Soho - I just don't understand it). Why is there a bongo player in a rock 'n roll band? And 'Bongo Herbert' - is that a name to set kids on fire? Why is the strip show so tame? (Well, I guess the film was mildy risqué for its day - and it was cut to get an 'A' certificate). Why was Sylvia Sims cast against type as a stripper - and why is her accent so posh? Why does Susan Hampshire get an uncredited role as an upper class twit? In fact, the screen is littered with well known actors - have fun spotting them!

The film is a very curious period piece and worth watching for that reason, but unfortunately not for Cliff's performance. 3/5 stars.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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