7.3 C
New York
Friday, December 1, 2023

Expresso Bongo (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


Late 1950s British rock and roll 'cool' musical starring a young Cliff Richard as a coffee house performer taken under the wing of a sly, fast talking manager who wants to take utilize his talent as a means to striking it rich.

Cohen Film Collection brings Expresso Bongo to Blu-ray in its original, full-length 1959 version which includes a few songs that were cut out of the later, more commonly available 1962 version which was released to take advantage of the popularity of Cliff Richard.

The film follows sleazy, fast-talking con man-cum-Soho talent agent Johnny Jackson and his stripper girlfriend (Laurence Harvey) always on the lookout for a quick buck and the next big thing to help him get rich quick. He dates the sultry but sometimes naïve stripper Maisie King (Slyvia Syms) who often badgers him to help her out with her singing career. Johnny finds his quick road to success with the young, good-looking, silky-voiced, bongo playing Bert Rudge (Cliff Richard), who really just wants to hang around the coffee shops, get away from his dull life and overbearing family, and play his bongos; Johnny has other plans.

Expresso Bongo is infused with late 1950s hipness of the Soho scene if in a somewhat silly musical variety variation. It predates the British Invasion and Beatlemania but is very much of the post-Elvis being drafted era as the music world was on the hunt for someone to fill that void in his absence. In Britain, that someone was presumably meant to be Cliff Richard, who would make a larger international splash a few years later, but hardly attain Elvis or Beatles status. That said, this is an enjoyable, often funny, even risqué film that has a quick pace and some memorable tunes.

The Video

Expresso Bongo was restored in 2K from the original camera negative in collaboration with the British Film Institute (BFI) and its Unlocking Film Heritage program. The film is framed at 2.35:1 with an AVC 1080p encodement on Blu-ray. One can tell pretty early in that this gorgeous black and white film was transferred from the original camera negative. There is an excellent amount of detail extension, contrast, and texture in this transfer, with excellent, inky blacks and nuanced shadows. The film grain structure is there as well even as we can see that the film has been nicely clean up but not overly scrubbed of grain and detail. This is a reference quality classic film release despite ‘only’ being a 2K restoration.

The Audio

The original monaural soundtrack is included in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The sound is clear with only some very subtle distortion during some of the musical numbers likely from the original source. Otherwise, this sounds very good, full, and always clear.

The Supplements

Only the trailer for Expresso Bongo is included on the disc.

The Final Assessment

A fun, energetic British rock and roll era film that gets a gorgeous restoration from Cohen Film Collection and the BFI. Check this one out for a nostalgic blast or just a look at some solid musical filmmaking.

Expresso Bongo is out on Blu-ray January 18, 2022 from Cohen Film Collection

  • Rating Certificate: Not Rated
  • Studios & Distributors: Val Guest Productions | Cohen Media Group | Cohen Film Collection
  • Director: Val Guest
  • Written By: Wolf Mankowitz Julian More
  • Run Time: 111 Mins.
  • Street Date: 18 January 2022
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English SDH

Related Articles

Join the Discussion on TheaterByte!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -

Notice of Compliance with FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 255

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR part 255 guidelines, this website hereby states that it receives free discs and other theatrical or home entertainment "screeners" and access to screening links from studios and/or PR firms, and is provided with consumer electronics devices on loan from hardware manufacturers and/or PR firms respectively for the purposes of evaluating the products and its content for editorial reviews. We receive no compensation from these companies for our opinions or for the writing of reviews or editorials.
Permission is sometimes granted to companies to quote our work and editorial reviews free of charge. Our website may contain affiliate marketing links, which means we may get paid commission on sales of those products or the services we write about. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Latest Articles

Late 1950s British rock and roll 'cool' musical starring a young Cliff Richard as a coffee house performer taken under the wing of a sly, fast talking manager who wants to take utilize his talent as a means to striking it rich. Expresso Bongo (Blu-ray Review)
%d bloggers like this: