Af­fec­tion­ate doc­u­men­tary sings praises of Po­mus

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Ran­dall King

ANY­ONE over the age of 30 prob­a­bly wouldn’t need a karaoke prompter to do an ad­e­quate job of singing Save the Last Dance for Me. It’s a pop stan­dard that’s been recorded by ev­ery­one from Ben. E. King to Dolly Par­ton to Michael Bublé.

But the story be­hind the song is one of those great Be­hind the Mu­sic mo­ments of rev­e­la­tion. Ton­ally, that story is the emo­tional cen­tre­piece of this en­ter­tain­ing bi­o­graph­i­cal doc­u­men­tary.

The song’s lyri­cist, Doc Po­mus, born Jerome Felder in 1925, was a boy who never seemed to stop run­ning and play­ing when he was grow­ing up in Brook­lyn. But a bout with po­lio left him on crutches and frus­trated — un­til he started tak­ing so­lace in blues mu­sic, a diver­sion that led to a brief ca­reer as a blues singer.

Even­tu­ally, Felder re­al­ized there was a more solid liveli­hood in the field of song­writ­ing. Part­nered with Mort Shuman, the newly minted Doc Po­mus be­gan a string of hit songs.

This doc­u­men­tary by Wil­liam Hechter and Peter Miller in­cludes loads of archived and new tes­ti­monies from many of Po­mus’s con­tem­po­raries, in­clud­ing Dr. John, Lou Reed, Leiber and Stoller and Dion DeMucci and even Po­mus him­self (who died in 1991). But the film’s most poignant mo­ment comes courtesy of Felder’s ex-wife, Broad­way ac­tress Willi Burke, who re­calls how Felder couldn’t dance with her at their wed­ding, an episode that in­spired the lyrics of Save the Last Dance for Me.

At a time when most con­tem­po­rary mu­sic Di­rected by Wil­liam Hechter and Peter Miller Win­nipeg In­ter­na­tional Jewish Film Fes­ti­val Ber­ney Theatre at the Rady Cen­tre Thurs­day, May 28, 7:30 p.m.

out of five doc­u­men­taries are ex­pended on the likes of Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and One Di­rec­tion, here’s a mu­si­cal bio of ten­der­ness, wit and sub­stance.

Jerome Felder in per­for­mance.

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