When I think of Gerry and The Pacemakers, I think of a nice group of lads with some pleasant songs. Brian Epstein presents Ferry Coss The Mersey (FCTM) just further confirms my feelings about Gerry Mardsen and his group, since in the movie they all appear to be a nice group of lads doing some pleasant songs.
Although the director, Jeremy Summers, supposedly was granted access to watch Richard Lester filming The Beatles, FCTM comes across closer in tone to Live It Up than to A Hard Day's Night. FATM starts out on a promising note as we are given some scenes of downtrodden Liverpool with a voice over by Mardsen allowing to what it was like to grow up in that area. This made it appear that FCTM was going to be in a more serious vein, similar to Catch Us If You Can.
FCTM then switches gears to Gerry Mardsen catching the ferry and meeting up with his other mates: Freddie (Fred Mardsen. his brother in real life), Chad (Les Chadwick) and Les (Les Maguire). I guess it goes without saying that they sing "Ferry Cross The Mersey" at this point in the film. The rest of FCTM revolves around the group having a situation where they can play a song OR rehearsing for the big competition. If they win the competition, they will get a manager and a recording contract. Gee, wonder who will win!
There's also a bit throughout the movie about a little beagle dog that appears from time to time, but there never was a payoff for the joke and its inclusion was lost on me. Another odd part of FCTM was at the competition, Gerry and The Pacemakers instruments mistakenly get taken to the airport. This results in the group chasing after their gear with the cops chasing the group, this long scene is filmed in the style of a silent movie ala Keystone Kops.
The majority of the songs that Gerry and The Pacemakers do (which were written for the movie by Gerry) are all top notch (there's a couple of duds). The worst performance in the movie comes at the competition when The Fourmost sing a sleep inducing number. While The Fourmost and Cilla Black get to do full songs at the competition (Cilla is a special guest at the show and not a competitor) there are several other groups (Earl Royce & the Olympics, The Blackwells, The Black Knights) whose songs are interrupted as the movie cuts back to the chase scene. This was unfortunate, since these songs were all high-spirited and I would like to have seen them in their entirety.
To the best of my knowledge, FCTM never received an official release and is rarely even broadcast on television. It can usually be obtained with a little digging through some "collectors' sites", but be forewarned all of these versions appear to have been vhs taped from tv then transferred from tape to dvd. In other words, no wide screen and a little bit of murky darkness to the transfer.