Thursday, February 07, 2013

The Doc Pomus Movie

Movie A.K.A. DOC POMUS, Directed by Peter Miller;  Conceived by Sharyn Felder (Doc's daughter);  and Film Editor Amy Linton.

This past weekend we went to see the movie A.K.A. DOC POMUS at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.  We knew of Doc Pomus  but mostly knew of his music.  I said "some" of his music.  What we knew was only the tip of the iceberg.  The award winning film editor, Amy Linton, is the daughter of our friend Ruth.  We wanted to see her work on the big screen.  She was also the film editor  for JEWS IN BASEBALL and the movie about Johnny Mercer's life.

We arrived  at the movie theater to get a good seat.  The trouble with that was a lot of other people arrived early also to get a good seat.  There were a lot of V.I.P guests who did not have to arrive early, they had their own line which went first.   Curses!  Foiled again!  That was fine because we got to chat with two young ladies that loved to travel and go to film festivals like this.  One of the young ladies leaned over and  whispered, "I'm not Jewish."

I looked around to make sure no one was listening and in a low voice said, "Neither are we."

Then I thought of something terribly negative and scary:  What if the wrong anti-Semitic  nut read about the Jewish Film Festival all crammed in one theater and wanted to exercise his 2nd Amendment right?  I decided to keep that fearful thought to myself; it might be like hollering "FIRE! in a crowded theater, which it was.

And yes, the theater was crowded. 

Doc Pomus's real name was Jerome S. Feder.  He was an overweight  Jewish kid living in one of the boroughs  of New York City when he caught polio.  Ironically he caught the polio disease at a youth camp that was set up to keep kids from getting polio.  His parents sent him there to safeguard him and he caught it there.  Go figure.

The rest of his life he would be physically crippled.  It was interesting how things come to be.  As far as his peers go, his disease put him on the outside looking in.  He might have never developed his innter musical talent if he was out romping with his friends.

As a teenager he started listening to rhythm and blues studying black radio stations that was their style and teaching himself their music.  He became as good as they were.

At age 17, he even conned himself a gig playing and singing the blues at a club.  He gave up his singing career when he realized no record company would back him because he was crippled and Jewish singing the blues.  That reminded me of Shel Silverstine's about what kind of folk music could you sing if you are young, white, and Jewish and nothing to protest.

Instead Doc Pomus became a song writer.  A long list of famous entertainers made his songs on the top 40 list:  Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Andy Williams,, The Temptations, Dion, and many more.  The hits just kept coming, or at least just kept being created by Doc.

One of his songs that stand out to me, and apparently other people, is "Save The Last Dance For Me" song.   When he married a lot of entertainers attended the reception and there were a lot of dancing.  But the two honorees could not dance because, of course, the groom depended on crutches.  Doc insisted that his bride dance with the guest; thus a song was born.

I think many of his songs were drawn from his experiences, or the lack of, such as "Teenager in Love". 

Doc songs laced the entire movie as Amy LInton perfected the short black and white movies, photographs, and music sequence.

As Doc Pomus got older and preferred living in hotels, he would hold "court" in the lobby with songwriters, signers, con-men, prostitutes, dopers, and  whomever care to join the group in the late night and wee morning hours.  He had free and personal advice for  everybody.

Doc Pomus was greatly admired.  I don't want to tell everything  about the movie.  This is why there are theater seats.

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