1950 feature film
During the summer of 1949 Howard Hughes signed Mel Ferrer to a contract
at RKO as an actor based on his performance in "Lost Boundaries," but Hughes' very first request of his new star was that he somehow salvage a film that had run through 5 directors and ballooned to the astronomical cost of 4 million dollars
- a huge amount at the time, especially for a film without stars. Built around Hughes' latest "discovery", a bosomy actress named Faith Domergue, the film had
begun shooting in 1946 and had gone through almost as many titles
as directors, including "Colomba" and "The Shooting of our Ladies of the Doves," but by the time Ferrer
was approached Hughes had settled on "Vendetta."
Ferrer was honest with Hughes; he didn't think there was much he could do, but
since they had a loose friendship, he agreed to try. He scrapped
and re-shot the ending, then added a few scenes to make the story more coherent. It was enough for Hughes to release
the film in early 1950, but it died a quick death - both financially and artistically. Although Mel Ferrer ended up as the credited director, most of the film was shot by others, including two of Hollywood's very finest - Preston Sturges and Max Ophüls, both of whom were fired by Hughes. The bulk of the film probably belonged to Stuart Heisler, who became ill during the filming and turned most of his chores over to
his editor, Paul Weatherwax. But none of the hired directors should probably be blamed for the final product, since the entire production was riddled by Hughes' constant interference. In fact, though he's
only credited as a 2nd unit director, Hughes himself was probably the main helmsman.
The story is based on the book "Columba" by Prosper Mérimée with a script by W. R. Burnett,
a rewrite by Peter O'Crotty and substantial additions from Preston Sturges.
The plot centers on a young woman's revenge for the murder of her father,
and in addition to Ms. Domerque starred George Dolenz, Hillary Brooke and
The film has never been released as a video and is rarely shown on
television, but its production was chronicled in the 2000 docu-drama for
TV: "Howard Hughes: his women and his movies."