Everyone attracted to men probably falls in love with Nino Castelnuovo while watching The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) where he plays a man separated from his lover by war in one of Jacques Demy’s spins on the Hollywood musical. The movie is considered one of the crowning achievements of both French cinema as well as musicals. It is a sad, intriguing look at life and love. Catherine Deneuve may not have waited for Nino Castelnuovo’s Guy, but all of us watching would have.
Castelnuovo was born in Lecco, Lombardy, Italy and made his credited film debut in Italian director/star Pietro Germi’s film The Facts of Murder (1959) which also starred Germi, Claudia Cardinale, and Franco Fabrizi. Castelnuovo continued to appear in classic Italian cinema such as Rocco and His Brothers (1960), Everybody Go Home! (1960), and The Hunchback of Rome (1960). While these were good films to have in one’s filmography, Castelnuovo wasn’t the star of any of them (those honors belonged to Alain Delon, Alberto Sordi, and Gérard Blain, respectfully). Still, it is impossible not to have your eye on Castelnuovo when he did come on-screen due to how distractingly handsome he was.
Then came The Umbrellas of Cherbourg for Jacques Demy. While José Bartel does the dubbing honors of Castelnuovo, it is Castelnuovo’s expressions that have to sell his love for Deneuve, his coming to terms with her leaving him, and him ultimately coming to accept and be happy with the life he is handed. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg turned out to be an international success and it helped boost recognition for Castelnuovo.
The next films Castelnuovo made included Nanni Loy’s Made in Italy (1965), starring in Vittorio De Sica’s A New World (1966), Andremo in città (1966) opposite Geraldine Chaplin, the spaghetti western Massacre Time (1966) starring Franco Nero, and Agnès Varda’s The Creatures (1966) starring Deneuve and Michel Piccoli. While Castelnuovo didn’t always play the lead, he had made a name for himself and continued working successfully in films and TV past the 1960s.
Castelnuovo died in Rome on September 6, 2021 at the age of 84 from a long illness. Castelnuovo was married to actress Danila Trebbi and had a son, Lorenzo. While we would all have loved to see Castelnuovo in more roles in line with his big success in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, he at least holds a place in film history with the lead in that classic movie.