New York Film Festival: Casting By, directed by Tom Danahue

I happened to catch one of the great documentaries being presented at  the 50th New York Film Festival, Casting By.

Directed by Tom Danahue, this is the story of the 50 year career of “one-woman casting revolution” Marion Dougherty. This 94 min. movie exposes Marion’s professional life, from her beginnings as a casting assistant on a 1949 Kraft anthology T.V. show and building her rep representing NYC-based theatre actors while the old Hollywood star system collapsed (Clint Eastwood, one of the many well-known actors interviewed for the film relates how that all happened). With Marion herself at the helm of most of the film (prior to her death in 2001) we learn how she not only set-up her infamous home-base in NYC, nourished the careers of a whole new generation of casting directors (all women, in fact) like Woody Allen’s favorite Juliet Taylor, but we see Marion move to California and cast movies like Slaughter House Five, Midnight Cowboy, The Graduate and so many others.

Jon Voight, Robert Duvall, Christopher Walken, and Robert Deniro sing Marion’s praises, even all going so far to write a letter to the motion picture academy for a special Oscar for this amazing woman (though the Academy never gave her the award and failed to even comment for this film). Really, Casting By is a wonderful movie about an unsung hero of movie-dom.

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