Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A.K.A. Doc Pomus

William Hechter's and Peter Miller's biodoc honors the life of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame songwriter Jerome Felder, a.k.a. Doc Pomus, who during a half-century-long career penned such classics as "A Teenager in Love," "This Magic Moment," and "Viva Las Vegas."

The film follows the standard format of talking-head interviews over photographs, and it's a bit too staid for its full-of-life subject (and maybe fifteen minutes too long). But some of the anecdotes are quite poignant, most notably the backstory to "Save the Last Dance for Me." Pomus spent an unhappy childhood afflicted with polio, and could walk only with crutches (until a slip on a sidewalk crack during adulthood confined him to a wheelchair), and wrote the song for his bride, Willi Burke. At their wedding, she danced with his brother (famed divorce attorney Raoul Felder) and others, but obviously couldn't dance with him. Still, "Don't forget who's taking you home, and in whose arms you're gonna be…" And the movie conveys Pomus' generosity, as expansive as his frame - generosity of spirit, time, work, money (when he had it), wisdom. Bob Dylan and John Lennon ushered in the era of the singer-songwriter that sounded the death knell for Pomus' assembly-line hit factory, yet both jumped at the chance to meet (and, in Dylan's case, work with) him.

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