Casting By

Casting By

How fitting that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences has announced the formation of a Casting Directors’ branch, just as
Tom Donahue’s outstanding documentary Casting
By
is building an audience. (It opens theatrically in New York today and
Los Angeles on November 8.) What a perfect piece of timing—even though it adds
a bittersweet footnote to the failed effort to present an honorary Oscar to the
legendary Marion Dougherty, who passed away in 2011. In his impressively
researched film, Donahue makes it clear why and how Dougherty helped define her
profession. Indeed, she was the first person to receive a solo-card credit for
her work.

The list of people Dougherty discovered and championed is
daunting, and many of them appear on camera in Casting By, including Robert Duvall, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Glenn
Close, and Diane Lane, along with directors who placed their trust in her like
Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, and Woody Allen.

Dougherty got her feet wet in the world of live television
in New York City during the 1950s and made a successful transition to filmed TV
when such Manhattan-based shows as Naked
City
and The Defenders offered
up-and-coming actors rich opportunities. Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Lynn
Stalmaster made a similar name for himself working on such half-hour series as Gunsmoke and Have Gun, Will Travel, amassing an equally impressive roster of
discoveries and (like Dougherty) really going to bat for people he believed in,
like Jon Voight and John Travolta, who recall how much his loyalty and
determination meant at crucial moments in their blossoming careers.

Casting By
would be valuable just for the interview footage with Dougherty and Stalmaster,
but they’re just part of the reason the documentary is so good. This is clearly
a labor of love. It must have been in the works an awfully long time…but it was
worth waiting for. 

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