Doc fo­cuses on movies’ un­sung he­roes

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Ran­dall King

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.

Dougherty: dis­cern­ing eye

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