This British film about a music contest in Liverpool was created strictly as a showcase for Gerry and The Pacemakers who had a hit with a song of the same name. It’s sort of like a make-shift Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Gerry Marsden and his brother Freddie have most of the lines with Les Chadwick and Les Maguire consigned to bit parts for the most part.
Cilla Black, The Fourmost and several other Merseybeat groups also perform. The movie also helped launch the career of actress Julie Samuel who had previously appeared in the TV programme The Avengers. Samuel plays Marsden’s girlfriend, shipping magnate’s daughter Dodie Dawson, who badgers him into entering the band competition.
Two extras in the movie also became household names – Doctor Who actress Elizabeth Sladen and disc jockey Steve Wright, who played a boy in the crowd.
Charting 36 hours in the life of the band, the film opened to rave views in London in July 1964 and quickly became a huge box-office hit. It’s required viewing for fans of the band destined to play second fiddle to The Beatles, and for all those with an interest in Merseybeat or the British Beat sound of the early Sixties.
Unfortunately, because it also features disgraced DJ Jimmy Savile, the film is unlikely to ever be shown again on British television.
The song Ferry Cross the Mersey was originally released as a teaser for the movie in December 1964. It went to #6 in the United States and #8 in the UK.
Shooting for the film took place in locations around Merseyside in the summer of 1964. The action centred on the Cavern Club and the Liverpool docks as well as Manchester airport. The ferry used in the film was the Mountwood (since renamed Royal Iris).
Gerry & The Pacemakers
George A. Cooper
Mischa De La Motte
Earl Royce & The Olympics
The Black Knights