Hannah Gordon told the audience that seeing herself in Johnson Over Jordan and an acting masterclass from Sir Ralph Richardson was an amazing experience. She was so overcome by the moving finale to Priestley’s play that she shed tears. When recovered herself she explained that the chance to work with Richardson in her first ever television role propelled her into the limelight and set her career in motion. Stories of her friendship with Paul Eddington and how Sir Ralph would turn up for rehearsals in full leathers on the back of an old motorbike were also a feature of her engaing and revealing talk. Hannah, who made the trip up from Surrey just to be at the event, said that the journey was worth it and that seeing the film again after so long was an emotional adventure.
There was unanimous praise from the audience for the play, for Priestley and the film. Those present had taken the opportunity to see it for the first time in almost 50 years.
Society Chairman Lee Hanson had earlier introduced the ideas behind the play and interesting points about the film’s production and the director’s approach. He also lamented the fact that there have been only two professional revivals of the play in 75 years and stated his belief that the play was overdue another chance in the professional theatre. The only production anywhere in the world in the last 14 years was at Bradford Grammar School back in February.
The film version, first broadcast in February 1965, has never surfaced since its original airing. The discovery of a 16mm copy found in the BBC archive made the chance to show it again possible. Thankfully it has now been digitised and saved for posterity.
Those who missed the screening will get a second opportunity when the film will be shown at the BFI in London next year as part of a forgotten drama series.
All images courtesy Mark Davis. For more information click here: http://www.mark-davis-photography.com/markdavisauthor/