Expresso Bongo

Synopsis: Johnny Jackson, a sleazy talent agent, discovers teenager Bert Rudge singing in a coffee house. Despite Bert's protestation that he really is only interested in playing bongos, Johnny starts him on the road to stardom. The deal they cut, however, is highly exploitative of the young singer, and their relationship soon begins to go bad.
Genre: Drama, Music
Director(s): Val Guest
Production: Continental
111 min


Cha, cha, cha.

- Hot dogs here. Get your hot dogs here.

- One hot dog.

Right, sir.

I said, 'Get with it, chick!

Get with it! What's the point of coming

'if you don't go for the beat, huh?

What's the point?'

Yeah, but Vera, when she goes,

she really goes.

You see, he does look like

Dave Brubeck only shorter.

- I thought Brubeck was shorter.

- Oh, no. Very big.

Well, I can't get with him.

I do try, but I just can't!

Him, he's so square,

it's like dancing with a load of dice.


Variety, Miss, Melody Maker.

I'll bring 'em back in the morning.


Johnny, this isn't a lending library.

All right, I'm not paying a subscription.

Hello, boy.

I've got second in the third and third

in the fourth. I've got no appetite!

Look, let's come to the Spieler.

It might break the box.

- Still racing, Racer?

- What else?

I got a hot tip for you.

Meesa Masheena in the 4:30.

- On you, too, better.

- Two salt beef on rye!

- Dying to see your new look, Leon.

- Have you got music?

- What am I, La Scala?

- Hi, Leon.

- You want this eat or take?

- Eat.

Two salt beef on rye. Four shillings.

Hi, Johnny.

- How are the alterations coming?

- Expensive. And no.

- No what?

- No nothing from you.

I don't want no propositions.

Did I make? I didn't make!

I've got a big enough

proposition with all this!

All right, so give me a cup of coffee

and I won't waste your time

by telling you what to make

Leon's new expresso

the most habitated teenage club in Soho.

- Thank you very much. One coffee!

- Make me up six salt beef on white

- and four... No, two smoked salmon.

- To eat? Oh, no, it's too many.

To take.

If it's not against your principles.

Oh, by the way, you heard

I'm handling the Beast Rhythm Group.

Beast Burns and his Beasts making a bomb!

Six salt beef on rye!

The rye's more fresher. Who wants Beasts?

Everybody wants to listen

to music today, Leon.

Everybody wants it!

- So, what's with this new juke box?

- They'll fix it. It's music, ain't it?

Leon, for half of what that machine,

with its degenerate can-music costs,

you can have

a real live artiste in this place,

a personality,

someone that the kids will eat up!

No. N-O!

You're talking to an educated man, Leon.

I could spell even four-letter words

before I was six!

Take a night off!

Don't you want to open

this great new enterprise with a splash,

something that will get you

into the papers?

Now look at this. Just look.

'Teenage kids making music in expressos.'

It's creating such interest.

- It's a good publicity.

- It's fabulous publicity!

I can book you an artiste into here

which'll make this place beat out

greetings from Croydon to Willesden!

The kids will come flocking in here!

Cost you a mere 20

a week for a first-class artiste.

- 5 cash. Booking charge.

- Some hope.

- Hope, unlike charity, costs nothing.

- It's still too expensive.

Six beef, two salmons.

I want you know that

I come from a long line

of small-capital big-hopers,

some of whom did not die bankrupt.

Look, Johnny,

why don't you stick to drumming?

You're a good drummer, boy,

but what kind of a manager!

- Hah!

- What's so funny?

I put in a few cucumbers to last.

I was just thinking what

a great opportunity you're missing

for the sake of a mere fiver.

- I'm glad.

- Oh, well, that's how it is.

Some fellas are just not

cut out for success.

Ah, that's how it is.

Look, Leon,

I'll book you a top personality

and throw in a group to back him.

A mere 20, the package. No?

- A mere no.

- All right.

All right! So thank you and good night,

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Wolf Mankowitz

Cyril Wolf Mankowitz (7 November 1924 – 20 May 1998) was an English writer, playwright and screenwriter. He is particularly known for three novels—A Kid for Two Farthings, Make Me an Offer, and My Old Man's a Dustman—and other plays, historical studies, and the screenplays for many successful films which have received awards including the Oscar, Bafta and the Cannes Grand Prix. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Expresso Bongo" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 31 Jul 2021. <>.

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