Johnny Mercer: Dream's on Me
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Clint Eastwood Presents: Johnny Mercer: The Dream's On Me
AT THE PIANO with CLINT EASTWOOD & JOHN WILLIAMS (40 mins) AT THE PIANO with CLINT EASTWOOD & JAMIE CULLUM (40 mins) AT THE PIANO with CLINT EASTWOOD & RICHARD (40 mins) Full songs performed with various artists A BIO TEXT- BRIEF ESSAY ABOUT THE LIFE AND WORK OF JOHNNY MERCER AT THE PIANO with CLINT EASTWOOD & JOHN WILLIAMS (40 mins) AT THE PIANO with CLINT EASTWOOD & JAMIE CULLUM (40 mins) AT THE PIANO with CLINT EASTWOOD & RICHARD (40 mins) Full songs performed with various artists A BIO TEXT- BRIEF ESSAY ABOUT THE LIFE AND WORK OF JOHNNY MERCER
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We sat there, stunned to realize how much a part of our lives this Southern gentleman had been. "Did he write THAT!" "My gosh! Was THAT his too?" "Wow! I learned 'Jeepers creepers' in the fourth grade!"
"Lazybones" and "Day In and Day Out," "I'm An Old Cowhand from the Rio Grande" and "That Old Black Magic"--all by the same writer? "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "Autumn Leaves"?
The documentary features great clips by the best singers of the 20th century, vocalizing or playing with Mercer or while he listens: Bing Crosby, the Mills Brothers, Andy Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland (found out something about her we didn't know!), Tony Bennett, Nat "King" Cole--on and on.
The documentary follows Mercer's career into the Seventies, when music trends changed and his kind of ballad passed from popularity, and when I no longer learned the words of dozens of songs. More than any other lyricist in the world, Johnny Mercer was the man who gave my generation its love songs. What a debt we owe him! His tombstone uses yet another of his unforgettable phrases: "And the Angels Sing." Indeed they did.
Just a short list of the lyrics Mercer wrote brings up some of the greatest songs ever, Moon River, I'll Remember You, Too Marvelous For Words, Emily, One For My Baby, I Wanna Be Around, Dream, That Old Black Magic.
There are flaws as mentioned by others. The Lena Horne clips are unwatchable, the mugging she does is pathetic. So little Sinatra, Judy Garland or Ella Fitzgerald. Way too much Andy Williams.
But some of the clips are astonishing. There are three clips from a Merv Griffin show with Fred Astaire, Tony Bennett, Pearl Bailey, and Dinah Shore that are jaw-dropping. If that entire show exists in some archive, can someone make it available to the general public. Hearing Mercer and Astaire singing "Something's Gotta Give" on that show knocked me off my chair.
I was also amazed at how good Mercer was as a singer. The clips with him singing solo or with others are fascinating. There is a non-Mercer song clip in the show, him singing Carmichael's "Georgia On My Mind" with Ray Charles.
I also appreciated that the documentary did not gloss over some of the sadder facets of Mercer's life, that his marriage that went bad, his affair with Judy Garland, his drinking problem (he was a very bad drinker, probably an alcoholic).
One point that was not mentioned that was in the Furia book, that Mercer would write multiple versions of lyrics to a song. It would have been interesting to have someone sing the alternate lyrics he wrote for Moon River.
It is great to watch this on TCM, better to have it on DVD.
Thank you TCM, thank you Clint Eastwood, thank you Johnny Mercer.
There are some wonderful clips of Johnny with Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Fred Astaire, and many others, and lots of clips of singers perfroming his songs. Two minor complaints: There was only a brief clip of Sinatra, singing "One For My Baby"--should have had more of him. And they chose to show a simply dreadful rendition of "Day in-Day Out", "sung" by Lena Horne--couldn't they have shown one of Sinatra's versions?
That aside, this is an entertaining and informative documentary that lovers of great music will enjoy very much. I highly recommend it.