Skip to Main Content

WILLIAM (BILL) BECKER

Missouri & Wadham 1948 (23 May 1927 - 12 September 2015)

WILLIAM (BILL) BECKER

Mr Becker was a theatre critic and financier who acquired Janus Films with a partner in 1965, expanding its catalogue of art-house and Hollywood classics and eventually broadening their distribution to university audiences and home viewers on DVD. Founded in the mid-1950s by two former Harvard students, Janus originally prospered by exposing American filmgoers to the avant-garde work of ground-breaking but largely unfamiliar post-World War II European and Japanese directors, including Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni, François Truffaut, Luis Buñuel, Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, Robert Bresson and Kenji Mizoguchi. After acquiring the company, Mr. Becker and Saul J. Turell, a documentary producer and television pioneer, secured the rights to a vast trove of international films, including Jean Renoir’s “Grand Illusion” and Sergei Eisenstein’s “Battleship Potemkin,” as well as vanguard American works like Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane” and the original “King Kong.”