Casting By


As its title suggests, this documentary by Tom Donahue pays tribute to casting directors, one of the most underrated professions in the movie industry. The film principally focuses on Marion Dougherty, a pioneer in that field. Starting her career in New York working for T.V. series, she then moved to Hollywood, changing forever the way movies were casted. She became the first real casting director, hiring actors that would actually fit the part, rather than just picking random talents that were under contract with the studios.

Her contribution to cinema was considerable as she was responsible for assembling emblematic cast for classics such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, to name a few. Of course, this also means that she also launched the career of quite a few stars – the likes of Al Pacino, Robert de Niro, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, Robert Duvall and Jon Voight are here to testify.

Despite the undeniable role casting directors have had in the success of movies, it is however surprising that they are not recognized at the highest level by their peers when it comes to Awards season. Despite the support of several film luminaries such as Martin Scorcese and Clint Eastwood, the Academy refuses to acknowledge their impact and give them awards. While the Academy declined to take part in this documentary, Taylor Hackford  – a filmmaker known for hits and misses such as Ray and Parker – explains that casting professionals shouldn’t be called “directors”, that their role is very limited and that “real directors” are the only ones in charge. While you might give credit to Mr. Hackford to be the only one brave enough to defend this position onscreen, the argument is so ridiculous that it will make you cringe; as a side note this shows once again how archaic the Academy board is, a facelift being much needed.

A simple, straightforward documentary bringing its message across, Casting By successfully brings the spotlight on a little-known field and will hopefully help them get the recognition they deserve.

Director: Tom Donahue – Featuring: Marion Dougherty, Clint Eastwood – Running Time: 1:29 – Year: 2012 – Country: USA

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Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.