21 August 2018

Lino Capolicchio - actor

Acclaimed for role in Vittorio de Sica classic

Lino Capolicchio's acting talents shone on the  stage, television and the big screen
Lino Capolicchio's acting talents shone on the
 stage, television and the big screen
The actor and director Lino Capolicchio, who starred in Vittorio de Sica’s Oscar-winning film The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, was born on this day in 1943 in Merano, an alpine town in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of northern Italy.

Capolicchio appeared in more than 70 films and TV dramas, and dubbed the voice of Bo Hazzard in the Italian adaptation of the American action-comedy The Dukes of Hazzard.

As a director, he won awards for Pugili, a drama-documentary film set in the world of boxing based on his own storylines, but it is for The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, for which he won a David di Donatello award for best actor, that he is best remembered.

The movie is about a wealthy Jewish family in Ferrara in the 1930s, whose adult children, Micol and Alberto, enjoy blissful summers entertaining friends with tennis and parties in the garden the family’s sumptuous villa.

Capolicchio’s character, Giorgio, from another middle-class Jewish family, falls in love with Micol but she only toys with his attentions. In any event, everything changes with the outbreak of war as northern Italy’s Jewish population become targets for the Nazis and their Fascist allies.

Capolicchio with his co-star Dominique Sanda in Vittorio de Sica's Oscar winner The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
Capolicchio with his co-star Dominique Sanda in Vittorio
de Sica's Oscar winner The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
The movie won De Sica one of his four Oscars as a director. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow both won Best Foreign Language Film, while Bicycle Thieves and SciusciĆ  were both awarded honorary Oscars.

Trained at the Silvio D’Amico Academy of Dramatic Arts in Rome, Capolicchio made his stage debut in 1964 at the Piccolo Teatro di Milano in a play by Carlo Goldoni under the direction of Giorgio Strehler, who also used him in some subsequent Shakespeare productions.

By 1967 his acting talents were held in such high regard that he was given a small role in Franco Zeffirelli’s movie version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, which starred Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

His first major starring role came in Escalation (1968), a drama directed by Roberto Faenza, before the chance to play Giorgio in The Garden of the Finzi-Contadinis followed in 1970. The movie was such a success, winning critical acclaim as well as public popularity, that Capolicchio became famous almost overnight.

Capolicchio continued to work well into his 70s with a number of TV roles
Capolicchio continued to work well into his
70s with a number of TV roles
Many more parts followed, including several films for the director Pupi Avati, including his 1976 movie La casa dalle finestre che ridono (The House with the Laughing Windows), the 1984 film Noi tre (The Three of Us), in which he plays Mozart’s father, and Ultimo minuto (Last minute) in 1988.

For a period in the late 80s, Capolicchio focussed on teaching, taking the acting chair at the Experimental Centre of Cinematography in Rome. During this period he discovered new talents such as Francesca Neri, Sabrina Ferilli and Jaja Forte.  Later, while he was holding auditions for his film Pugili, he came across a young actor of great talent who has gone on to enjoy a successful career in Pierfrancesco Favino.

Pugili, shot in 1995, was named Best Film by the international press at the Turin Film Festival.  Awarded the Vittorio de Sica Award in 2012 for best actor and director, he continued working into his 70s, with parts in TV dramas such as La piovra and the massively popular Una grande famiglia.

Updated August 2022: Lino Capolicchio sadly passed away in Rome in May, 2022, at the age of 78.

Trauttmansdorff Castle is one of the attractions of Merano
Trauttmansdorff Castle is one of the attractions of Merano
Travel tip:

Located in a basin surrounded by mountains that rise up to almost 3,350m (11,000ft), Merano is a town of around 40,000 inhabitants in Trentino-Alto Adige, known also as the South Tyrol, which is most famous for its spas. The writers Franz Kafka and Ezra Pound were both residents at one time or another. Among the attractions for visitors are the Gothic St. Nicholas' Church and, a little outside the town, the Trauttmansdorff Castle and its gardens.

The Rotonda Foschini in Ferrara
The Rotonda Foschini in Ferrara
Travel tip:

Apart from the impressively well preserved Castello Estense right at the heart of the city, Ferrara - situated midway between Bologna and Venice in Emilia-Romagna - has many notable architectural gems, including many palaces from the 14th and 15th centuries.  Among them is the striking Palazzo dei Diamanti, so-called because the stone blocks of its facade are cut into the shape of diamonds. The palace holds the National Picture Gallery, which houses many works from the  masters of the 16th-century School of Ferrara, including Lorenzo Costa, Dosso Dossi, Girolamo da Carpi and Benvenuto Tisi.

More reading:

Vittorio de Sica - the maestro behind Bicycle Thieves and other classics in Italian cinema history

The Shakespeare adaptations that made Franco Zeffirelli into a household name

How La Dolce Vita actor Marcello Mastroianni became the epitome of Italian cool

Also on this day:

1862: The birth of adventure novelist Emilio Salgari

1969: The death of Giuseppe Meazza, Italian football's first superstar


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