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A sly, sleazy and unscrupulous music agent, Johnny Jackson (Laurence Harvey) trolls the neon-streaked sidewalks of London's Soho district in search of fresh meat to exploit. He finds it in a teen-packed coffee bar where a pompadoured rebel (pop star Cliff Richard) is dazzling his peers with his pouty, Presley-ish voice and a talent for pounding "the skins." Johnny renames the kid "Bongo" Herbert and, with the help of his stripper girlfriend (Sylvia Sims), guides the potential teen idol along the rocky path to fame. Beneath its deceptively kitschy surface, Expresso Bongo is a patently clever film whose savvy critique of the corruptive values of show biz are reminiscent of that other hard-boiled classic, Sweet Smell Of Success. With a screenplay by Wolf Mankowitz and syncopated style to burn, director Val Guest's Expresso Bongo sizzles with authenticity, and is a witty, smart, entertaining exploration of one facet of the "Brit Beat" phenomenon.

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KI229 Expresso Bongo DVD (1959/Laurence Harvey) $24.95 $22.49