2 items from 2015
William Becker, who with a partner acquired Janus Films in 1965, expanded its catalog of arthouse and Hollywood classics and broadened the distribution of that catalog to audiences at universities and to movie fans via DVD, died Saturday from complications of kidney failure in Southampton, N.Y. He was 88.
Becker was a theater critic, a culturally oriented financier and close associate of writers and directors whose passion for the art of film motivated him at least as much as a desire to make money.
Janus, which had been founded in the 1950s by a pair of Harvard alumni, exposed American moviegoers to the then mostly unfamiliar work of groundbreaking directors such as Italians Federico Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni; Ingmar Bergman; Frenchmen François Truffaut and Robert Bresson; Luis Buñuel; and Japanese masters Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi.
After acquiring the company, Becker and his partner Saul J. Turell secured the »
- Variety Staff
One of art cinema’s great champions, William Becker, died on Saturday after complication from kidney failure. He was 88.
Starting out his career as a theater critic, Becker purchased legendary art cinema label and Criterion Collection backer Janus Films in 1965, in turn helping it evolve into the brand that it has become today. Overseeing expansion into realms like university education and eventually home video, Becker was a man with an affinity for intellectual discussion of cinema (he himself was a Rhodes scholar) and also an early adopter of the auteur theory, focusing on legendary filmmakers ranging from Luis Bunuel to Yasujiro Ozu.
He purchased the company with Saul J. Turell, going on to nab rights to films like Citizen Kane and King Kong, putting them alongside legendary art house films and pieces of world cinema, like Renoir’s Grand Illusion. This itself will be his lasting legacy.
I’m not normally one to write obituaries, »
- Joshua Brunsting
2 items from 2015
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