Affectionate documentary sings praises of Pomus
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.