The Pirates of Penzance

Universal Press Department
January 5, 1983


Edward R. Pressman was born in New York and graduated from Stanford University with a BA degree in Philosophy. He then studied a Masters course in Philosophy, Political Science and Economics at the London School of Economics.

While at the LSE he met a student at Cambridge University, Paul Williams, and together they made a short film called "Girl," based on the Lennon and McCartney song, which was received with critical acclaim in Britain.

Together, the two young men formed a film company under the banner of Pressman-Williams Company, with Williams being the writer-director and Pressman the producer. They began making movies, almost always featuring as-yet unrecognized artists.

Their first film, "Out Of It," released in 1969,, starred an unknown named Jon Voight. The next year he starred in their second film, "The Revolutionary," which also starred another unknown at the time -- Robert Duvall.

In the years that followed, they produced two films directed by Brian DePalma, including "Phantom Of The Paradise," as well as the directorial debut of Terrence Malick in "Badlands" which also marked the starring debuts of Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek.

The Pressman-Williams partnership was unofficially dissolved in 1976 when Edward R. Pressman Productions (EPP) was founded.

EPP is an independent film production company dedicated to making quality theatrical motion pictures and developing new talent in the medium. With ten years of experience in the field and more than a dozen feature length films to its credit, the company has embarked on a major expansion of its activities, working with more established artists and moving towards larger budget films.

Neverthless EPP intends, where necessary, to continue making lower budget films outside the studio system in order to promote artistic talent which would otherwise go untapped. Such is the tradition of the company.

With his company, Pressman added a new role to his previous one as producer - that of executive producer. Lending his name and expertise in packaging to other producers who did not have his reputation or connections, he was able to expand his activities and become involved in the creation of a greater number and variety of films, crossing the borders in the process.

Thus, the last few years have seen the company presenting such films as "Despair," by West Germany's avant-garde director Wener Rainer Fassbinder, based on the novella by Vladimir Nabokov and starring Dirk Bogarde; "Paradise Alley," the directorial debut of Sylvester "Rocky" Stallone, who also wrote and starred in the movie; and "Victoria", a turn of the century love story from the novel by Norway's Nobel Prize winner, Knut Hamsun, by the Swedish director, Bo Widerberg of "Elvira Madigan" fame.

Pressman also continued to act as a producer, making the films "Nunzio" and "Old Boyfriends" (one of the first major U.S. films to be directed by a woman, Joan Tewkesbury).

More recently, his film "Heart Beat," starred Nick Nolte and Sissy Spacek. His most current production was the epic adventure "Conan The Barbarian."

Although Ed Pressman is currently executive producer on the cinematic adaptation from the hit Broadway revival of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates Of Penzance," his company is still developing a vast number of films -- such as "The Spike," based on the international best seller; and Jonathan Demme's ("Melvin And Howard") next film, "The Big Mamoo."

Edward R. Pressman presents A Joseph Papp Production, "The Pirates Of Penzance," starring Kevin Kline, Angela Lansbury, Linda Ronstadt, George Rose and Rex Smith. It is directed and has a screenplay by Wilford Leach, and Joseph Papp is the producer. A Universal Release, the executive producer is Edward R. Pressman, and the co-producer is Timothy Burrill.

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