Reviews of the film

Bert Kaempfert

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"Boettcher's film adaptation of his book of the same name entertainingly traces the ups and downs of this thoroughbred musician's career with the help of old Kaempfert interviews, many conversations with family members, friends and colleagues. From these stories, the numerous old film and television recordings and Kaempfert's still very catchy music, a colorful musical picture book emerges that entertains surprisingly well even for two hours."

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"120 minutes for a documentary is a long time. Marc Boettcher's "Bert Kaempfert Story" is nevertheless not boring for a second. And that's not just because Bert Kaempfert's life was so exciting. The story of the little Hamburg man who became a world star has to be told in great detail. Marc Boettcher not only delved into the depths of the archives, he also let Kaempfert's contemporaries and companions have their say. He has incorporated cine films from the possession of Bert Kaempfert's daughters into his film; these images, as well as a BBC interview, have never been seen in public before. It took a lot of persuasion for Boettcher to get hold of these film images, but the effort was worth it. Bert Kaempfert's life story is also a piece of contemporary and cultural history, which also becomes clear in the film."

"Decent, light-handed and with a loving eye for detail!"

"Detailed documentary film with a lot of archive material. - Boettcher not only tells the life of Kaempfert, but unfolds a historical and cultural-historical panorama. He does this with great, almost encyclopedic care. - At the same time, one gains many private insights and witnesses how Kaempfert's Continental Sound conquers the world from Hamburg."

"Not only for nostalgics and harmony researchers a swell reason to spend Saturday evening at home."

"Not just for nostalgics and harmony researchers, this is a great reason to spend Saturday night at home."

"Marc Boettcher's affectionate documentary pays tribute to the legend of swing and "easy listening" as factual as it is anecdotal. - He charts a highly entertaining arc over nearly six decades."

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"Boettcher's insightful portrait not only paints a picture of the brilliant composer and arranger, who died of a cerebral stroke at only 56, but also a cultural history of his time - from the Golden '20s, with its interest in all things exotic, to the wartime Kaempfert spent in a music corps, to the '60s and '70s, when the shy German's tunes took the U.S. by storm."

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"With this very detailed documentary, author Marc Boettcher now also presents Kaempfert's cinematic biography almost exactly one year after the publication of his book about him. - On the one hand, the documentary traces Berthold Kaempfert's life, but Boettcher also sheds light on the difficulties Kaempfert had, especially at the end of the 1950s and in the 1960s, in the area of conflict between his conventional German record company Polydor and his breathtaking recognition in the USA. - "Fips" - the film also shows this impressively - shaped an era and a musical style with his "Kaempfert sound," his swing and easy listening - and yet remained modest, reserved and often introverted. As one of the few German world stars who also gained an unrestricted foothold in the U.S., he created some 400 compositions and more than 750 arrangements. The blow is all the greater when he dies suddenly of a cerebral stroke on Mallorca on June 21, 1980. And the film ends symbolically: "Fips" at the piano, playing "Strangers In The Night.""

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"Marc Boettcher, best identified by his Kaempfert biography (F.A.Z. of Dec. 3, 2002), drew a multifaceted, cinematically perhaps a little too long portrait of this important, widely unknown bandleader, who as such was so un-German that he was even appreciated in America and England."

Book reviews

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"Boettcher's book is a must-read for music lovers!"

"In this intensively researched book, which is well worth reading, Marc Boettcher has presented a remarkable study, not without considerable resistance from those involved in the Bert Kaempfert story. To be recommended to all music lovers!"

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"Author Marc Boettcher, known for his excellent TV documentary about the singer Alexandra, describes in detail (but never dryly) and in a pleasantly unspectacular way the professional and private life of the great, always reserved orchestra leader and arranger. The mixture is successful all around. (...) This is the long overdue, informative-entertaining reappraisal of a piece of German music history at world level - with glimpses behind the Hanseatic scenes without clumsy voyeurism."

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"Marc Boettcher's biography, now published, is also to be welcomed because it recalls the life and work of a man who did more for the reputation of upscale light music in this country than many a far more popular bandleader. Basically, Boettcher's book is a stimulating background history that not only introduces the pleasantly unpretentious person Bert Kaempfert, but also offers a little cultural history of the postwar period."

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"A sound made in Germany conquered the world at the beginning of the sixties: the Bert Kaempfert sound. (...) In Marc Boettcher's book, one learns a lot about this time, in which Kaempfert shuttled back and forth between Hamburg and New York, between Polydor and Milt Gabler's Decca Records. And so this book can also be read as a chapter on German-American light music history marked by many animosities."

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"In the process, the reader and Kaempfert fan learns many sympathetic details from the musician's life. But Boettcher does not conceal in the book the price of fame that Kaempfert and his family had to pay, the struggles, intrigues and jealousies of the music business, his years-long legal battle for the copyrights to Strangers In The Night."

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"Written in a loosely chatty reporter's tone, Boettcher fans out a host of facts, anecdotes, and quotes that profile Bert Kaempfert the man and his social background from a variety of angles. Stranger In The Night offers an entertaining and detailed picture not only of Kaempfert, but also of pop history over the past 50 years. With some 400 compositions to his credit, Bert Kaempfert made a handsome contribution and, at the time of his death at only 56, had already secured a place in the pop Olympus."