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The Times (19/Feb/1983) - Obituary: Mr Weston Drury

(c) The Times (19/Feb/1983)

Mr Weston Drury

Mr Weston Drury, who died on February 15 at the age of 91, had a lengthy career which took him via seaside concert party, stage management and acting in revues, musical comedies and theatrical shows for the troops during the First World War to an executive type of stardom in which he was as well known as any other casting director of the world of British films when that industry was in its prime.

Peter Cotes writes: "Bill" Drury's background was more theatrical than it was managerial and .this served him in good stead when the opportunity arose through the late John Maxwell and subsequently Robert Clark for him to found and set up a special casting department, the first of its kind, at the old Elstree film studios.

His knowledge of artists in all sides of the theatrical profession made him a veritable walking show business encyclopaedia. He was invaluable to many of the early film "moguls" in this country, some of who were ignorant of many of the people in the straight theatre, who were later to be found necessary to the British film studios which were, in the; late 1920s, turning over to talking pictures.

Drury became indispensable -- a liaison between the outside world of aspirants for work and the inner world of studio requirements. Prior to the advent of a fully fledged casting department concerned only with that one aspect of filmmaking, roles had not infrequently been given to the friends and relatives of executives on a type-casting basis that was, as often as not, wide of the qualifications required.

Under the aegis of Alfred Hitchcock, Drury helped to cast such notable films as The Ring, The Farmer's Wife, Blackmail, The Skin Game, and Murder. The name Weston Drury became synonymous with film casting. Forty years after making his debut, casting Fay Compton and Donald Calthrop in Cape Forlorn. Drury moved across to ARTV (the first commercial television contractor).

A modest though spirited champion of what he believed to be artistically right Bill Drury remained always for his colleagues -- those producers and directors who regarded a casting director as someone with more knowledge and authority than a filing system for names, addresses and telephone numbers -- the ultimate authority.