The Masters  
The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

A lot of the documents have been sent to me or have come from other web sites. The name of the web site is given where known. If I have unintentionally included an image or document that is copyrighted or that I shouldn't have done then please email me and I'll remove it.

I make no money from this site, it's purely for the love of the films.

[Any comments are by me (Steve Crook) and other members of the email list]

  Steve's Logo

Inside sleeve of various of Steve's videos

The Archers: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Notes from a video sleeve

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger jointly signed all fourteen of the films they made together between 1943 and 1956. The Archers, as their company and partnership was called, also embraced regular associates. The aim was 'to gather such a stupendous team of techicians and craftsmen that they're all contributing and you only control it, like Lermontov in The Red Shoes .' More like Kozintsev and Trauberg than the Taviani brothers, in practice Powell directed and Pressburger wrote, while they shared production duties.

Michael Powell (1905-90) grew up in Kent and became a film enthusiast while still a schoolboy at Dulwich College. In 1925 his father found him a humble job with Rex Ingram's MGM unit based near Nice, where he gained valuable experience before becoming a journeyman director in Britain at the start of the sound era. The Edge of the World, shot on location in the Shetlands in 1936, attracted Korda's attention and led to his pairing with Pressburger on The Spy in Black (1939).

Emeric [Imre] Pressburger (1902-88) was born in Miskoicz in Hungary, but received much of his education in Germany. He entered the script department of UFA in 1928 and contributed to a string of musicals and comedies, before the Nazi takeover in 1933 forced him to emigrate. After two precarious years in Paris, he moved to London, where the Hungarian Korda gave him a start. After he and Powell discovered their affinity while adapting The Spy in Black, they went on to devise Contraband (1940) and the ingeniously propagandist 49th Parallel(1941), for which Pressburger won an Academy Award.

Together they created some of the most original British films of the 40s and 50s, notably the wartime series comprising One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), A Canterbury Tale (1944), I Know Where I'm Going! (1945) and A Matter of Life and Death (1946). They continued to exploit Technicolor and a vein of metaphysical melodrama in Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948) before crisis in the British film industry forced them into compromised co-productions, although The Tales of Hoffmann (1951) marked their boldest experiment in stylisation. The partnership lapsed after the mid-50s, with Powell pursuing a solo career and Pressburger turning eventually to novel writing. The late 70s, however, saw the first in a continuing series of restorations and revivals of their films which led to widespread critical revaluation.

Back to index