Kino celebrates British Rock

Kino International is prepping up two films from the heyday of British Rock; 1959’s black and white adaptation of the play Expresso Bongo and the 1963 drama The Leather Boys. The two films compliment each other and help bring back a glimpse of the British phenomena. Both films are being prepared for a November relase on DVD.

“Expresso Bongo” stars 1950s British musical sensation Cliff Richard as an up-and-coming star being exploited by a dime-store con artist. Johnny Jackson (Laurence Harvey) is a fast-talking talent agent for the sleazy strip joints and espresso bars in London’s Soho section. One night he and his sexy stripper girlfriend Maisie King (Sylvia Syms) hear a young man (Richard) singing and playing the bongos in a coffeehouse. Certain he has the makings of a teen idol, Johnny signs him to a 50-50 contract, changes his name to “Bongo” Herbert, and parlays him into national prominence with his patented PR moves. But when a buxom, brassy American musical star named Dixie Collins (Yolonde Donlan) takes a shine to Bongo, Johnny is displaced as Bongo’s manager. But guys like Johnny don’t stay down for long…

Rita Tushingham and Colin Campbell play Dot and Reggie, two members of a notorious biker crew that hang around the legendary Ace Café in “The Leather Boys”. Seeing their romance limited to sneaking cigarettes and chocolate around Dot’s parents house, the couple decides to wed. The honeymoon ends quickly. In typical fashion, the film attempts to instill a lesson of disaster for the young ruffians: a “normal, happy life” is forever beyond the grasp of nonconformists. Without parental supervision, Dot begins to run wilder than ever, staying out all hours and coming home drunk. Reggie grows disenchanted with Dot’s new sense of freedom, and it isn’t long before he’s back to his old ways, tearing up the road with his old biker pals, lighting bonfires and looking for ladies.

“Expresso Bongo” will be presented in its original black and white widescreen which has been anamorphically enhanced and presented in Dyaliscope. The DVD will also contain excerpts from the film’s original pressbook. The DVD for “The Leather Boys” includes the original theatrical trailer for the film, a photo gallery, and also contains excerpts from the original pressbook.

Both discs are coming from Kino on November 6th and will both carry a $24.95 price tage. Let the British Invasion begin again.

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