Eric Portman Returns Home on The Big Screen with J B Priestley’s The Good Companions

Celebrating a hattrick of anniversaries with a screening of ‘The Good Companions’ by J B Priestley & Starring Eric Portman


Yorkshire-born (Halifax) Eric Portman, who became one of the biggest names in British cinema, is set to make an on-screen re-appearance in his hometown. On the afternoon of the 24th November, square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax will show the 1957 musical version of J B Priestley’s classic novel The Good Companions, in which Portman stars as the down-to-earth joiner Jess Oakroyd.


The screening marks a hattrick of anniversaries including 90 years since novelist, playwright and broadcaster John Boynton Priestley (J B Priestley) was first published, the 35th anniversary of his death and the 50th anniversary of the death of actor Eric Portman.


Portman, who was born in Chester Road, Akroydon in 1901, made his name in a number of major films including, 49th Parallel (as a fanatical Nazi U-boat officer), One of Our Aircraft is Missing, Millions Like Us, The Colditz Story and The Magic Box. He also enjoyed a successful career in the theatre.


J B Priestley who is also referenced as the ‘the last great man of English letters’ was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire. His biggest success as a novelist was 1929’s The Good Companions. The film portrays Britain in its depression as is follows the lead character, played by Portman, as he leaves the family home to join a struggling touring concert party called The Dinky Doos and finds a new purpose in life.


Filmed in Technicolor and CinemaScope, The Good Companions also stars Celia Johnson, who famously played the lovelorn housewife in Brief Encounter, Janette Scott and her real-life mother, the fondly-remembered Dame Thora Hird (Last of the Summer Wine).


The screening in the Copper Auditorium at Square Chapel, has been co-sponsored by the Bradford based J B Priestley Society. There will be an introduction at 1.15pm by Film Consultant, society member and Halifax resident Bill Lawrence. This will be followed by the screening of the film. An exhibition curated by the J B Priestley Society will also be on display for fans and film goers to enjoy.


Michael Nelson, The J B Priestley Society’s Information Officer, calls the film “a version of Priestley’s most popular and enduring novel which rivals some of the great Hollywood musicals of the era but which retains much of the essential Englishness of the original story.”


Bill Lawrence, Film Consultant said: “J B Priestley is one of the major literary figures of the 20th Century. His contribution to British cinema is often overlooked, but from the The Old Dark House to Alec Guinness in Last Holiday he was offering something new to audiences. Then there are the adaptations of his plays and novels to film by some top directors. He continues to draw the attention from generation to generation.”


For tickets and more information contact the Square Chapel Box Office on 01422 349 422 or visit book your tickets here 

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