Giacomo Casanova — the real historical figure who lived in Italy from 1725-98 — is probably the most famous lover in history, and filmmakers have long been adapting his life to screen. I thought it would be a nice round of Man Candy to look at all the screen Casanovas I could track down, although I was surprised to find just how many featured old (and, I would say, unattractive) Casanovas! I guess filmmakers find that a more interesting story, the lost youth and waning prowess? I don’t know, I want to see romps in bed and early morning escapes across rooftops, which is why the 2005 Casanova starring David Tennant is probably my favorite of those that I’ve seen.
Let’s run down Casanova in film and TV, and then weigh in — which of these would you actually exchange body fluids with??!!
Loves of Casanova (1927)
Played by Ivan Mozzhukhin in this French production, which apparently starred lots of Russian emigrés.
Again played by Ivan Mozzhukhin, again a French production. All I can find out is it’s a comedy/drama.
Loves of Casanova (1947)
Played by Georges Guétary in this French production. According to IMDB, “On his way to Paris, Casanova keeps on collecting female conquests, does not shy away from duels and gets into many a colorful adventure. Once in the capital, the fearless knight saves the honor of a great lady, conquers the niece of his implacable enemy but courts disaster for love of Coraline, a faithless opera dancer.”
Adventures of Casanova (1948)
Played by Arturo de Córdova in this American/Mexican production: “After Palermo falls in 1793, a notorious ladies man joins the underground resistance movement–but still finds time for the ladies.” OF COURSE HE DOES. It’s a fictionalized tale that makes Casanova into a freedom fighter.
The Mysterious Rider (1948)
An Italian production, with Casanova played by Vittorio Gassman. IMDB says, “Giacomo Casanova returns to Venice, to help his brother, falsely accused of robbery.”
Casanova’s Big Night (1954)
Vincent Price has only a small role as the real Casanova, while Bob Hope takes the lead as the guy who is mistaken for the famous lover. I thought Price was weirdly cast, as he’s all supercilious raised eyebrows and seems more like one of his horror characters.
Sins of Casanova (1955)
An Italian production starring Gabriele Ferzetti. IMDB says, “1760 Spain provides the setting for Giacomo Casanova’s romantic escapades, every woman he encounters unable to resist his disarming charm, be they single, engaged, or even married.” EVERY. SINGLE. ONE!!
Last Rose from Casanova (1966)
This time a Czech production — is that why the beard? — featuring old Casanova (Felix Le Breux) writings his memoirs and charming a married woman who initially isn’t attracted to him.
Infanzia, vocazione e prime esperienze di Giacomo Casanova, veneziano (1969)
If you guessed it’s Italian, you’re right! Leonard Whiting plays young Casanova in a sea of bad ladies’ hair. I can only assume this one goes for “saucy romp.”
Played by Frank Finlay (The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers) in this six-part BBC miniseries; IMDB says, “Casanova was imprisoned in Venice in 1755, and Potter used that event as a central device, constantly inter-cutting to contrast Casanova’s amorous escapades, radiant, joyful and brightly lit, with his oppressive solitary confinement in the gloom of a half-darkened cell.”
An Italian biography of the famous 18th-century occultist Count Cagliostro; Casanova is played by Massimo Girotti.
Fellini’s Casanova (1976)
Fellini. Donald Sutherland. Weird, receding-hairline wigs and a whole lot of WTF. I definitely plan to watch this, although I am afraid. Danilo Donati won the Oscar for Best Costume Design!
Le siècle des lumières (1976)
A French production with all sorts of 18th-century luminaries; Casanova is played by Jean-François Poron (which is hilariously close to “porn”).
Some Like It Cool aka Casanova & Co. (1977)
I actually tried to watch this, and it was baaaaaaad, but I promise to give it another whirl. TONY CURTIS plays Casanova. WHY I HAVE NO IDEA. Wikipedia tells me it’s soft-core porn, which re-raises my interest.
Casanova auf Schloss Dux (1981)
A German production, Wolf Kaiser plays Casanova. That’s all I got.
La nuit de Varennes (1982)
Another on my shortlist: an Italian/French production telling the fictionalized story of four people who travel along with King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette as they try to flee France during the revolution. Marcello Mastroianni plays an elderly Casanova.
Die schone Wilhelmine (1984)
A German TV miniseries about King Friedrich Wilhelm II and his mistress Wilhelmine Encke. Casanova is in one episode and is played by Jean-Claude Brialy.
I DEFINITELY have to see this. For posterity. And hilarity. RICHARD CHAMBERLAIN as Casanova.
Divoka srdce (1989)
A Czech production with Boris Rösner as Casanova; Mozart is also a character.
A Word in Your Era (1992)
Okay, I’d actually quite like to watch this British comedy: “Three historical figures (played by three contemporary comedians) compete against each other in a quiz.” Comedian Steve Coogan (Tristram Shandy) plays Casanova in one episode.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures (1992)
YOU GUYS. I HAD NO IDEA THEY MADE A CRAPPY TV SERIES BASED ON BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURES. I AM INCLUDING THIS BAD PHOTO ONLY TO DOCUMENT THAT SUCH A TRAVESTY EXISTED.
Casanova played by Joe Marinelli, FYI.
Le retour de Casanova (1992)
Goodbye, Casanova (2000)
An experimental Italian film (I’m out!) with Gian-Carlo Scandiuzzi and Yasmine Bleeth (Baywatch). Uh…
Il giovane Casanova (2002)
FINALLY SOMEONE IS DOING YOUNG AND HANDSOME CASANOVA. Christ on a crouton, that was hard! Looks like lots of rooftop escapes, shagging, and he ends up in France making the moves on Madame de Pompadour. I definitely need to see this one!
That’s Stefano Accorsi as Casanova.
Giacomo Casanova (2004)
German production, Robert Hunger-Bühler as Casanova.
Finally, one I’ve seen! Heath Ledger plays a young Casanova in this feature film. While he’s young and pretty, he spends the whole film trying to convince a boring Sienna Miller that he’s changed his naughty ways, which is not why I want to see a Casanova film.
My personal favorite, despite some crazy costume choices. David Tennant is all rakish charm and teasing wit in this TV miniseries, and while yes, there is some “my one true love!” there’s also lots of scandalous intrigue. Yay!
German, Thomas Heinze, no idea why there are modern people around.
Love Signs (2006)
Russian production: “In Moscow, the famed lover Casanova is reborn in the body of a Russian gangster in an attempt to resolve a love triangle.” Maksim Sukhanov plays Casanova.
Casanova – Die Kunst der Verführung (2013)
German production, Adrian Becker, I am unimpressed by these images.
Casanova Variations (2014)
John Malkovich in what I think is an adaptation of a stage play.
The most recent attempt! An Amazon pilot that Trystan loved — she said the costumes were shiny and lush and the plot was smart! — which sadly wasn’t picked up into a series. Diego Luna plays Casanova.