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Johnny Mercer: The Dream’s On Me

by Phil Hall
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Dec 8, 2009
Johnny Mercer: The Dream’s On Me

Bruce Ricker's documentary Johnny Mercer: The Dream's On Me, which was broadcast on Turner Classic Movies, traces the extraordinary creative output of lyricist/composer/singer Johnny Mercer.

At home in both jazz clubs and Hollywood studios, Mercer's musical legacy is rich with versatility and imagination: "Jeepers Creepers," "Hooray for Hollywood," "That Old Black Magic," "Blues in the Night," and "Moon River" are some of the many songs that he created in collaboration with the likes of Richard Whiting, Hoagy Carmichael, Jerome Kern, and Henry Mancini.

At home in both jazz clubs and Hollywood studios, Mercer’s musical legacy is rich with versatility and imagination.

The surplus of memorable music does not allow the full presentation of his tunes; instead, there is an excess of song excerpts from film and television productions, with performances by numerous show business legends as well as Mercer himself. If the lacking is anything, oddly enough, it is an understanding of the man behind the music. Outside of a thumbnail history of his formative years and the details of a little-known affair he had with Judy Garland (Mercer's wife confronted the star directly to stop seeing her husband), the viewer never quite understands what drove his creative energy, and what he was like in his private life.

Clint Eastwood is credited as the film's executive producer, and he turns up on-screen with his young daughter Morgan, an aspiring vocalist who brings more enthusiasm than talent to the proceedings. Mercifully, the DVD's bonus features offer the likes of Audra McDonald, Cleo Laine, Jamie Cullum, and Dr. John joyously performing Mercer's timeless treasures.

Phil Hall is the author of "The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time


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