Imre JÃ³zsef Pressburger was born in Miskolc, in the Kingdom of Hungary, of Jewish heritage.
He was the only son (he had one elder half-sister from his father's previous marriage) of KÃ¡lmÃ¡n Pressburger, estate manager, and his second wife, KÃ¤therina (nÃ©e Wichs). He attended a boarding-school in TemesvÃ¡r, where he was a good pupil, excelling at mathematics, literature and music. He then studied mathematics and engineering at the Universities of Prague and Stuttgart before his father's death forced him to abandon his studies.
Pressburger's early films were mainly made in Germany and France where he worked at the UFA Studios in the Dramaturgie department (script selection, approval and editing) and as a scriptwriter in his own right. In the 1930s, many European films were produced in multiple-language versions. Some of the films made in Germany survive with French intertitles and vice versa.
Pressburger entered Britain in 1935 on a stateless passport; once he decided to settle, he changed his name to Emeric in 1938. In England he found a small community of Hungarian film-makers who had fled the Nazis, including Alexander Korda, owner of London Films, who employed him as a screenwriter. Asked by Korda to improve the script for The Spy in Black (1939), he met the film's director, Michael Powell. Their partnership would produce some of the finest British films of the next decade. However, Pressburger still did some projects on his own.
Pressburger was much more than simply "Michael Powell's screenwriter" as some have categorised him. The films they made together in this period were mainly original stories by Pressburger, who also did most of the work of a producer for the team. Pressburger was also more involved in the editing process than Powell, and, as a musician, Pressburger was also involved in the choice of music for their films.
He died in a nursing home in Saxtead on 5 February 1988, due to the complications of old age and pneumonia. He is interred in the cemetery of Our Lady of Grace Church, Aspall.