Status: Completed. Joan was replaced by Rita Hayworth
Character Summary: The alcoholic mother of two criminals, Martha clings to the memories of her youth, while attempting to prevent her sons from killing one another due to their personal animosities and joint competition in criminal activities.
Description of the film:
Following a successful jewel heist, Jason (Giuliano Gemma) is betrayed by his mob-boss brother, Adam (Klaus Kinski). Adam attempts to deceive Jason out of his share of the heist's proceeds, and has the tendons in Jason's right hand severed so that he cannot have the proper use of his hand, and in particular, have the ability to shoot a gun. Jason plans revenge against his brother, while their mother (Rita Hayworth) attempt to settle the bitterness between her sons before they kill one another. The story was reportedly inspired by the Greek Tragedy "The Medea."
Joan's involvement in the production:
Originally accepted by Bette Davis (who later turned it down), Joan accepted the role in the spring of 1968, and signed her contract in mid-April, 1968.
Duecio Tessari was hired to direct, and the production was scheduled to begin principal photography on June 1st, 1968 in Madrid, Spain, followed by filming on a sound stage in Rome and location filming in New Mexico.
Joan objected to the production's title of “The Bastard,” and producer Turi Vasile agreed to change the title to “The Cats.” However, to Joan’s dismay, the title was reversed back to “The Bastard” in May of 1968.
Issues between Joan and the production began early regarding the film’s billing. Joan’s co-star in the film, Giuliano Gemma, had requested top billing for himself when he agreed to star in the film, and his contract stated he was to receive top billing. Joan objected to Gemma's top billing, and told reporters "I told them I've earned it." To resolve the issue, producer Turi Vasile agreed to give Joan top billing for the film in all countries except Italy, where her name would appear on publicity materials below the title in a special outlined box.
Principal photography was scheduled to commence on June 3rd, 1968 in Madrid, Spain. Joan backed out of the film only days before the scheduled start of filming. After abruptly backing out of the film, producer Turi Vasile sued Joan for breach of contract in New York in mid-July 1968. The lawsuit was later settled amicably between Joan and Vasile.
The premiere of “The Bastard” was held in Italy on October 30th, 1968, with Rita Hayworth in the role.