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Expresso Bongo (1959)

 |  Drama, Music  |  11 December 1959 (UK)
6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 229 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 6 critic

Johnny Jackson, a sleazy talent agent, discovers teenager Bert Rudge singing in a coffee house. Despite Bert's protestation that he really is only interested in playing bongos, Johnny ... See full summary »

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Title: Expresso Bongo (1959)

Expresso Bongo (1959) on IMDb 6.3/10

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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. See more awards »
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Director: Laurence Harvey
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Yolande Donlan ...
...
Meier Tzelniker ...
Ambrosine Phillpotts ...
...
Leon
Gilbert Harding ...
Himself
...
Penelope
Reginald Beckwith ...
Reverend Tobias Craven
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Storyline

Johnny Jackson, a sleazy talent agent, discovers teenager Bert Rudge singing in a coffee house. Despite Bert's protestation that he really is only interested in playing bongos, Johnny starts him on the road to stardom. The deal they cut, however, is highly exploitative of the young singer, and their relationship soon begins to go bad. Written by George S. Davis <mgeorges@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Laurence Harvey in an outstanding and different motion picture that takes you into a world of burlesque houses .. jazz dens ... and flesh-and-blood people!

Genres:

Drama | Music

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Release Date:

11 December 1959 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A Singing Idol  »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Marty Wilde was first considered for the role of Bert Rudge but was dismissed when it was believed his height (6ft 3ins) would make his character less sympathetic. See more »

Connections

Version of Expresso Bongo (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

I've Never Had It So Good
Music by David Heneker (as David Henneker) and Monty Norman
Lyrics by Julian More and Wolf Mankowitz
From original stage show
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Laurence Harvey does Phil Silvers
10 January 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Laurence Harvey gives an agonizing performance in the agonizing "Expresso Bongo," a British film from 1959.

A fast-talking low-life agent, Johnny Jackson (Harvey) discovers a young bongo player/singer (Cliff Richard) from a poor family, renames him Bongo Herbert, and brings him to stardom by wheeling and dealing. Shades of Colonel Parker, especially when he takes half of Bongo's earnings. When the singer meets an American star, Dixie Collins (Yolande Donlan) who is making a triumphant return to London, Jackson starts to lose control of his talent.

I have no idea what Laurence Harvey, normally a very fine actor, thought he was doing in his portrayal of Johnny Jackson. He comes off like an imitation of Phil Silvers, except when Phil Silvers did this kind of shtick he was hilarious. He's way, way over the top.

I watched this film because I wanted to see the young Cliff Richard. Richard was not in this film enough, nor did he sing enough. The speaking voices of some of the other actors, such as Avis Bonnage as Bongo's mother, and Sylvia Syms as Jackson's girlfriend Maisie) were so annoying and incessantly high pitched and screamy, at one point I nearly stopped watching. Richard himself is very natural, not really acting, and he did well in the musical numbers.

Sir Cliff Richard was the U.K.'s answer to Elvis and has more top 10 hits than any other artist, spanning a remarkable 50 years. He has the third-highest number of #1 hits in the UK, behind Elvis and The Beatles. He's an institution. And I hated this movie. Like some of Elvis', it's pretty unwatchable. It's a shame we couldn't do better by our national treasures.


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