from the BRAZZI! newsletter, September 1995
In this film Rossano plays Il conte di Cafour, and Yvonne deCarlo plays the role of the title character. Rossano's character appears to be more involved in the political end of the film's story than the romantic one.
The other rather ironic twist to the character Rossano plays (one that MUST have driven him nuts when it happened) is only evident if you know the background of Little Women. His most plaintive objection to his mis-casting in Little Women involved his wardrobe and appearance: they'd padded him around the middle to make him look heavier and pasted long sideburns on his face - and after that experience, he was so unhappy he returned home to Italy ... only to find himself in La Contessa di Castiglione with padding around his middle and bushy sideburns pasted on his face! The irony of that turn of events couldn't have escaped his notice at the time ... he may have even found some sort of wry amusement in the role ... who knows?
DeCarlo plays a proud Italian girl who assists patriot Georges Marchal to escape from the Austrian police. After vainly waiting for Marchal's return, she agrees to wed a count. Later, he takes her to Paris, where she is introduced to Napoleon III (Paul Meurisse), who she tries to influence in favor of Italy. During her Parisian stay, she again meets Marchal and plans to flee with him to England. Instead, she remains to attempt a truce between the Italian terrorists and the French monarch. Marchal dies in the process, but Yvonne obtains the desired peace.
When the feature was released in France in 1955, Simone Dubreuilh (Libération) wrote, "Badly directed by Georges Combret, badly played by Yvonne de Carlo, La Castiglione is a pitiful film. To choose Yvonne DeCarlo, a beautiful but vulgar actress, who would only be suitable as the Prudence of Camille, to play Mme de Castiglione, a great lady, mistress of the emperor and for a while a rival to the splendid Eugénie, is as absurd as having Eddie Constantine enact the role of George Washington."
Yvonne's recollection of this minor fiasco is rather frivolous. "Rossano Brazzi was in the picture," she later told newsmen, "playing my uncle, with a pillow-stuffed tummy and a beard. He hated the makeup - and maybe the role, too. But he was well up on his lines. There was a passage when he rattled off French dialogue for a couple of minutes - and all I had to say was "oui". Well, wouldn't you know, I loused the whole scene up by unthinkingly barking "yes" ... yes, we're still good friends. He's a good sport."Sources: