Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Casting By

For any cinephile this wonderful new documentary about the workings of casting directors is an absolute must. It is however not a detailed study on how they do their jobs, but more of a paean to Marion Dougherty, one of the first ever casting experts and a legendary icon in the industry.
Prior to Ms Dougherty’s emergence the major studios just cast the Actors they had under exclusive Contracts allocating them roles based on their availability rather than their talent. As that era ended New York based Ms Dougherty started persuading Directors to used real theater actors as opposed to movie stars, and when she engineered the breakthrough of a whole series of men that were far removed from looking like classic matinee idols such as Dustin Hoffman into leading men, casting was never the same, and she never looked back.
In this touching and very emotional tribute countless major actors such as Diane Lane, Robert Redford, Jim Voight, John Lithgow, Al Pacino etc etc testify not only did that they got their first big breaks via her auspices, but it was often only after her sheer persistence persuading many initially reluctant Directors.  To their credit these same Directors testified how indebted they were to her sheer dogged determination to get an actor a role, because she was always right.  Martin Scorsese at least admitted that 90% of directing a movie is the casting. 
Her career spanned some 50 years and went from being independent in New York to being VP of Casting at Paramount and then Warner Brothers in Hollywood.  And in a field dominated by women, many of today’s leading Casting Directors such as Juliet Taylor and Wallis Nicita etc. started their careers as Marion’s assistants.
No matter how instrumental she was in the success of a movie it was years before she, and others, were ever given a screen credit for their role.  And even then, the Directors Guild, led by a very bitter Taylor Hackford, disputed their right to be called Casting Directors. It is the ONLY major function in movie making that does not qualify for an Oscar (the Emmy’s acknowledge them), and the saddest part of the story is when there was a very impressive campaign by what is essentially Hollywood royalty pleading with the Academy to award Marion an Honorary Oscar for her lifetime achievement, the Board of Governors refused.
As movie making now is all about money making by huge corporations, it is unlikely that any Casting Director today will be able to launch another unknown Bette Midler or Glenn Close or Danny Glover into stardom, and more’s the pity.  Marion Dougherty died in 2011, and her wonderful instinctive way of casting, has died too.
Wonderful tribute to a fascinating woman with a remarkable talent for spotting everyone else’s talent.
Directed by Tom Donahue this is an HBO Documentary so will be on your TV screens  very shortly

Posted by queerguru  at  04:02

Genres:  documentary

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