Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Doc focuses on movies' unsung heroes

  • Print

Everyone who cares about movies know how films changed in the 1960s, when the Hollywood studio system fell into obsolescence.

A new filmmaking renaissance began, and if you've read books such as Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, you might attribute the metamorphosis in films to the rise of directors such as Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Hal Ashby and other auteurs.

This delightful documentary by Tom Donahue offers a corrective view of that transition. The actors on the movie screens likewise evolved beyond the rigid old Hollywood caste system of stars and the supporting players. And the force behind that transition was the casting director, the women -- mostly women -- and men who scouted for talent and acted as go-betweens twixt the huge acting communities of New York and Los Angeles and the movie directors.

The film offers interviews with some of the brightest lights in the field -- Lynn Stalmaster, Wallis Nicita, Juliet Taylor -- but the main focus is on Marion Dougherty, whose discerning eye for talent helped the careers of Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Redford, Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, Diane Lane, John Lithgow and Glenn Close. (The list goes on and on.)

For movie fans, the doc yields one wonderful story after another. Jon Voight recalls his embarrassing first role on the series Naked City, and how Dougherty still believed in him to the extent that, years later, she helped the land of Joe Buck in Midnight Cowboy. Director Richard Donner talks about the shame he felt when Dougherty pushed for Danny Glover to play Mel Gibson's partner in Lethal Weapon and Donner initially resisted because the character wasn't written as black. John Lithgow delights with his recounting of how he got the career-making role of the transsexual Roberta in The World According to Garp. Ed Lauter confesses to his own ingenious plot to get into Dougherty's New York casting office by passing himself off as a mailman.

Dougherty herself, whom a colleague aptly describes as a "salty dame," offers hilarious recollections of showdowns with erstwhile paramount chief Michael Eisner that are worth the price of admission. Given that the Oscars have resisted the call to include casting directors in an awards category, Dougherty toots her own horn with, among other things, the revelation that when it came time to cast the supporting roles of The Sting, she brought in only one actor per part. The movie's director, George Roy Hill, thanked her in his Oscar acceptance speech, saying he couldn't lose because he had in his corner, "Newman, Redford and Dougherty."

Consider for a moment the supporting cast of The Sting: Robert Shaw, Charles Durning, Eileen Brennan, Harold Gould, Ray Walston... the woman was a genius.

And in this film, she gets the poignantly belated ovation she deserved.

After the Sunday afternoon screening of Casting By at 2 p.m., a panel discussion will follow with former and current casting directors Shelagh Carter, Rebecca Gibson, Darcy Fehr and Jim Heber.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 26, 2013 G12

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Winnipeg police comment on two officers that resuscitated baby

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • KEN GIGLIOTTI  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / July 23 2009 - 090723 - Bart Kives story - Harry Lazarenko Annual River Bank Tour - receding water from summer rains and erosion  damage by flood  and ice  during spring flooding -  Red River , Lyndale Dr. damage to tree roots , river bank damage  , high water marks after 2009 Flood - POY
  • KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / Jan 10  2011 ‚Äì WEB STDUP ‚Äì Frosty morning at -15 degrees C , in pic frost covers the the Nellie McClung statue  on the MB Legislature grounds at 7am

View More Gallery Photos


What do you think of Manitoba Hydro's deal to create a surface-parking lot to allow for construction of a new substation?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google