AKA Doc Pomus is the unlikely story of a rotund, polio-stricken Brooklyn Jew behind several of the catchiest and most heart-stirring tunes (“Lonely Avenue,” “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “This Magic Moment”) ever penned. Pomus—born Jerome Felder in 1925—reinvented himself as a blues singer who became one of the most prolific, popular composers during rock and roll’s first blush. He wrote more than a thousand songs for performers like Ray Charles, Dion, Elvis Presley, and the Drifters. Fellow composer Gerry Goffin accurately called Doc “the professor of soulful pop music.” Written out of profound misfortune, Pomus’s songs especially resonated with the downtrodden. This documentary traces Pomus’s brash rise as one of the few Caucasians to succeed in blues to his tenure as a font of Brill Building chart-dwellers to his descent into gambling addiction, divorce, and health problems to his comeback with surprising co-conspirators like Dr. John and Bob Dylan to his death from lung cancer at 65. AKA Doc Pomus is as moving as its subject’s work and does his improbable life justice. recommended

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