AKA Doc Pomus
directed by Peter Miller and Will Hechter
starring Jerome Felder
Clear Lake Historical Productions
Blindness has never held back a great blues singer, but polio and Judaism are a different story. Born Jerome Felder, Doc Pomus loved the blues and could belt them with the best. Soon he was working clubs, and chose to call himself Doc Pomus so his mother wouldn’t know he was working in blues joints. The labels loved his music, but couldn’t sell a pudgy Jewish singer to “race” audiences. Composition was now his only career option, and he had an early hit with “Young Blood” by The Coasters and was soon drawing $200 a month, plenty of money to raise a family in 1960s NYC. Other hits flowed, and soon he was writing for Elvis and punching out hit after hit after hit. Life was fine until the singer/songwriter craze took over; he could sing alright but didn’t look the part. With a career faltering he started running illegal poker games, got busted, got sick, and while never truly obscure, his star had faded.
This chummy and charming story features interviews, old stills, and Lou Reed reading Pomus’ journal. We meet his wives, kids, lovers, and collaborators, and they paint a picture of a very human but very gifted man. This is the behind-the-curtain look at the guts of the 1960s music industry where Brill Building writers and producers ran the business of manufacturing hits on demand. Pomus himself appears in archival footage. He’s overweight but positive, and his dream is the simple one of walking under his own power. If you love the oldies, this is where they come from, and while this film’s pacing could be a bit quicker, it’s not a bad way to reminisce.
This movie is part of the 2013 Florida Film Festival. More information may be found at www.floridafilmfestival.com.
AKA Doc Pomus: akadocpomus.com