David Everitt
January 23, 1998 AT 05:00 AM EST

EXPRESSO BONGO Laurence Harvey, Cliff Richard, Sylvia Syms (1959, Kino, unrated, $24.95) This wry showbiz satire takes us back through London hipster history, before the swinging ’60s days of Austin Powers, to the late-’50s world of Soho beats, finger-snapping teddy boys, and their sleazy fellow travelers. Among the sleaziest is Harvey as small-time talent manager Johnny Jackson, who promotes a DA’d bongo player (a ridiculously young Cliff Richard) into pure Elvis-clone gold. Harvey’s chutzpah knows no bounds as he fast-talks new clients, wheedles free dinners, and patronizes teen rebellion. In the most buoyant performance of his career, he exudes a cynicism so rakish and shameless you can’t help hoping his scams pan out. When they don’t, his frenetic charm compensates for his squaresville comeuppance. B

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