AKA Doc Pomus

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
October 4, 2013 12:02 AM
3 Comments
  • |
Courtesy of Clear Lake Historical Productions - © 2012 CJMEF
Did you know that the enduring rock ‘n’ roll ballad “Save the Last Dance For Me” was written by someone who could not dance? Stricken with polio at the age of 6, Jerome Felder spent much of his life on crutches or in a wheelchair. Once you know this and recognize the soulfulness of the lyrics, you begin to understand why the man universally known as Doc Pomus was so widely admired—by fans, friends, and colleagues ranging from John Lennon to Bob Dylan. Among his many standards are “This Magic Moment,” “A Teenager in Love,” “Viva Las Vegas,” and a stunning 1981 number introduced by B.B. King, “There Must be a Better World Somewhere.”

How a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn became a blues shouter, in the tradition of the great Joe Turner, and one of the poets of the Brill Building during its legendary hit-making years, is the story told in a fascinating new documentary by Will Hechter and Peter Miller called AKA Doc Pomus. It opens today in Manhattan and next Friday, October 11, in Los Angeles and other cities. Felder’s daughter, Sharyn, initiated the project and helped the filmmakers find archival interviews with the songwriter, as well as calling on family members and celebrated friends. The colorful cast of characters includes Ben E. King, Lou Reed, Dr. John, Phil Spector, Dion Dimucci, Shawn Colvin, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and the lyricist’s brother, notorious divorce lawyer Raoul Felder.

There was nothing routine about Felder’s life, and there is nothing rote about this documentary, which is thoughtful, intimate, and filled with warm, candid recollections. If you love stories about the music business you’ll certainly be entertained, but AKA Doc Pomus is intrinsically compelling because it charts the life of such a singular man. He was definitely one of a kind.

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3 Comments

  • mike schlesinger | October 15, 2013 8:04 PMReply

    A fine film, indeed, and the very next day I saw an equally excellent one, MUSCLE SHOALS. Between these two, plus TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM, THE GIRLS IN THE BAND and BAYOU MAHARAJAH, this has been a banner year for music documentaries.

  • Bonnie Margolis | October 4, 2013 10:21 AMReply

    I cannot recommend this film more highly. If the story doesn't move you and the music doesn't stir your soul...you are past needing the doctor.

  • Marc Freeman | October 4, 2013 5:35 AMReply

    Right on..I saw this film, and can't wait to see it again
    What a wonderful story

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