Cliff Richard has been a byword for safe, unthreatening, Christian pop for generations now, so much so that it’s hard to believe he ever did anything remotely edgy. Yet Expresso Bongo captures a young rock ‘n’ roller at a time when he looked both impossibly beautiful and genuinely dangerous, and the film is a righteous expose of cynicism in the music business which is so good that Cliff might even be forgiven for the horrors Living Doll or The Millenium Prayer which were to follow in his career.
Lawrence Harvey is brilliant as a Larry Parnes-type agent, and Expresso Bongo retains a resonance in the post-Simon Cowell era of pop. (Notes by Michael Hayden.)
This film is screening as part of Rock&Roll, the final of our three-month season dedicated to excess, presenting examples of how cinema has taken on sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll.