Cinema Review: Casting By | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Casting By

Studio: Submarine Deluxe
Directed by Tom Donahue

Nov 07, 2013 Web Exclusive
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Tom Donahue’s Casting By sheds light on one of the unsung professions in the film industry: that of the casting director. Donahue illuminates the evolution of Hollywood casting from a time when studios simply had to keep their contract players working, to today’s talent-based approach. The focal point of this transition is Marion Dougherty, a game changer who spent decades revolutionizing casting, adapting it into the art of handpicking the best actor to fill a role.

Over the course of her career, Dougherty worked with some of Hollywood’s most recognizable talent, and one of the pleasures of Casting By is hearing about their first break out role or, in some cases, their first encounter with rejection. From the likes of Robert Duvall to Al Pacino to Clint Eastwood, the impact Dougherty had on the filmmaking process as a whole becomes apparent. As such, the eventual transition in the last twenty minutes of the film, from a history lesson to an appeal for a Best Casting Oscar, makes sense even if it does seem to come a little out of the blue.

Casting By is perhaps an esoteric film, made by a film buff for film buffs, but that’s no slight against it. Donahue provides a fascinating glimpse into a seldom-considered part of the filmmaking process, and he does so with incredible archival footage, fascinating interviews, and crisp, stunning, colorized photos of Hollywood in its heyday. Marion Dougherty made a career out of giving actors a shot when she had a gut feeling about them. Casting By is well worth the same shot for anyone interested in the film medium.

Author rating: 6.5/10

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Scott Thorson Productions
November 8th 2013

It’s a nice tribute to Marion, but it doesn’t represent most casting today.  Key roles are usually hired without ever meeting casting, smaller roles are rarely hired without supervision.  The title of casting director is misleading.  Movies and television are cast by directors and producers.  Networks and Studios are still very much in business and control casting along with them.