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Expresso Bongo grooves onto BFI Flipside dual format in April

31 March 2016

The second of three new releases on the BFI’s Flipside label will be Expresso Bongo (1959). This sharp, witty satire of the music industry, directed by Val Guest (The Day the Earth Caught Fire, The Quatermass Experiment) starring Laurence Harvey, Sylvia Syms, Yolande Donlan and Cliff Richard, which brilliantly captures the vibe of 50s Soho, was adapted from the successful West End musical by Wolf Mankowitz (also The Day the Earth Caught Fire).

Newly remastered, the film is presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition in a Dual Format Edition (DVD and Blu-ray discs). The original full length theatrical version is presented on home video for the first time, accompanied by the shorter 1962 re-issue version, which has an audio commentary, plus there are alternative sequences, Michael Winner’s debut film, The Square (1957) and lots more.

When Soho hustler Johnny Jackson (Laurence Harvey), a drummer-turned-music agent, discovers teen bongo player Bert Rudge (Cliff Richard), in an espresso bar, he renames him Bongo Herbert, and secures him a record deal and a TV appearance. Soon, Jonny is riding the coat-tails of Bert’s stardom. Val Guest’s sharp, witty satire of the music industry (which beautifully captures the pre-sanitised world of Soho’s delis, coffee bars and strip clubs) was adapted from the successful 1958 West End musical by Wolf Mankowitz.

Designed as a star vehicle for the young Cliff Richard and The Shadows, Expresso Bongo also features a revelatory turn by Sylvia Syms as Johnny’s stripper girlfriend.

Expresso Bongo will be released on UK dual format (Blu-ray and DVD) on 25th April 2016 by the BFI as part of their Flipside strand at the RRP of £19.99.

Special features:

  • Newly remastered in 2K and presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition

  • Full-length theatrical version (111 mins): DVD and Blu-ray premiere of the original long cut from 1959

  • 1962 re-issue version (106 mins – Blu-ray exclusive): 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 Hearn (Blu-ray only)

  • Alternative sequences from the 1962 cut (2 mins, DVD only): the scenes which were added to replace cut songs

  • Expresso Bongo Gallery: a selection of promotional material, including stills, theatrical posters, lobby cards, and original US and UK press books

  • 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, long-thought lost short film about an elderly gent saying goodbye to his home in Kings Cross

  • Original US and UK press books (downloadable PDF, DVD only)

  • Illustrated booklet with new writing by Andrew Roberts, Vic Pratt and Steve Chibnall, and full film credits