BANG! The Bert Berns Story


Face the Music | 2016 | 94 minutes

Stranger Says:

If you’re still sad that season one of Vinyl was such a bummer, I heartily recommend this lively, knowing documentary about the intersection of early rock ’n’ roll and organized crime, and the troubling life of the hustler/genius/impresario behind many of your actual favorite soul, R&B, and pop songs of all time. (SEAN NELSON)

SIFF Says:

You may not have heard of Bert Berns, but you’ve definitely heard his music. As a songwriter and record producer, he lodged 51 pop/R&B chart singles during his seven-year heyday, including “Twist and Shout,” “Cry Baby,” “Under the Boardwalk,” “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” “I Want Candy,” “Hang On Sloopy,” “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and “Cherry, Cherry,” earning the #64 spot on the “Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time” list. Born to Russian-Jewish immigrants in the Bronx, Berns contracted pneumatic fever at a young age, leading to a chronic heart condition whose effects informed every one of his emotionally raw, shout-to-the-heavens songs. Obsessed with the mambo craze of the 1950s, he spent time in Havana before Castro rose to power, and his subsequent fixation on infusing music with Afro-Cuban rhythm changed American pop culture forever. Narrated by musician Steven Van Zandt (co-producer of the Broadway-bound jukebox musical Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story), BANG! charts Berns’ besieged path through the record industry from multiple perspectives, courtesy of interviews with Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, Solomon Burke, Ben E. King, Betty Harris, and Ronald Isley, as well as no-holds-barred revelations from record executives, songwriters, and even mob-connected artist managers.

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Film Credits
Brett Berns, Bob Sarles
Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, Ben E/ King, Ronald Isley, Solomon Burke, Ben E. King
SIFF 2016