Expresso Bongo and a surprising Soho Johnny
Well, I never really thought I would watch a Cliff Richard film and think “That’s kind of quite decent actually”.
Expresso Bongo is the 1959 (almost) film debut by Mr Richard and is the celluloid adaptation of the West End musical.
At points it wanders into not-so-decent more mainstream cheese and even exploitation but and although it’s no Small World of Sammy Lee (see Day #7/365a), nor a World Ten Times Over or even a Beat Girl, it’s actually a rather decent capturing of that just pre-swinging London and Soho period that I have something of a soft spot for.
Although it doesn’t necessarily have Sammy Lee’s inherent grit/edge, if memory serves correctly it does share some kind of sense of Soho hustle and basement showgirl-ness.
The book was written by Wolf Mankowitz – who also appears in the film credits as a sandwich board man that announces his own credit… which is a nice touch and along with a few others, such as the pin-up girl stage curtains, makes the film at the very least an interesting curiousity.
The film was directed by Val Guest, whose work has made an appearance around these parts before – see Hell Is A City at Day #21/365a – and who was also responsible for the somewhat classic and Flaming Stars song title lending The Day The Earth Caught Fire (and by the 1970s, like much of the UK film industry he had wandered into British smut comedies such as Au Pair Girls and Confessions Of A Window Cleaner).
Peruse the film here.