Gerry On The Mersey
The Merseyside Movie
By Bill Harry
Filming took place over three months, mainly at Elstree Film Studios, but with various location scenes in Liverpool.
Gerry was told that the title song was to be called 'Ferry Cross The Mersey.' Initially he experienced difficulty writing it and would go down to the docks with his
fiancée Pauline Behan to stare at the boats. Inspiration took several months - and then came suddenly!
He'd picked Pauline up one evening to take her out to dinner in Southport when he heard the opening notes of the song in his head as he was driving. He stopped the car and got out to make a phone call to his mother to put the tape recorder to the phone and then he hummed the tune down it. He rushed back to the car, told Pauline the dinner was cancelled, drove back home, rushed into the parlour of his house and completed the title number in three minutes.
Gerry & the Pacemakers were the stars of 'Ferry Cross The Mersey', which also featured guest appearances from Cilla Black and the Fourmost. Various other exponents of the Mersey sound were in the background of some scenes - the Kirkbys in a music shop and Earl Royce & the Olympics, the Black Knights, the Blackwells and other groups in a dancehall sequence.
Scenes included a Cavern performance by Gerry & the Pacemakers; Frank Hessy's music store; a Mersey ferry and a climactic music contest at the Locarno ballroom.
Cilla and the Fourmost were appearing at the London Palladium at the time and traveled
to Liverpool on their days off to film their Locarno guest spots. Cilla sang one song, 'Is It Love?' penned by her boyfriend Bobby Willis. The Fourmost sang 'I Love You Too', which was later recorded by Matt Monro.
Other location sequences were filmed at Speke Hall, Manchester Airport, the Albert Dock and in various streets around Liverpool.
The group's bass guitarist Les Chadwick told me, "We spent six weeks in London first, filming the interiors such as the Chinese restaurant and a boarding house. Then we moved up to Liverpool for the exterior shots in the Cavern and Locarno.
"The film tells the average story of a group. It could be any group - it's supposed to be us, but it isn't.
"Gerry and I are friends and we go to the art school. We meet Les and Freddie who work in a warehouse. We form a group and play around Liverpool a bit and perform a number in the warehouse. Gerry's film girl friend brings a manager round to see us in the warehouse and he likes us. He buys us some equipment - and in the music shop we perform another number.
"'It's Gonna Be all Right' is the initial song at the beginning of the film and, together with the title song, is the theme throughout.
"We do numbers in all sorts of odd places in one scene we're invited to a house in which we find an antiquated guitar, a piano, an old drum and a harp. We begin to play them and I play the harp as if it were a double-bass.
"After we'd finished filming the scene, an actor who plays the part of a butler came up to me and said 'I like your group, it's a unique idea to have a harp in a rock group.'
"I didn't dare tell him I play bass!"