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The working title of this film was A Mask for Lucretia. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Ray Milland was originally slated to appear as "Alfonso D'Este," but refused the role, and was placed on suspension by Paramount. Modern sources add that John Lund, originally slated to play "Cesare Borgia," was then cast as "Alfonso," and also contributed to the screenplay. The historical reputation of the infamous sixteenth-century Borgias is that of a brutal and possibly incestuous family. Cesare Borgia took political and military control of Rome after his father was elected pope, and engineered his sister Lucrezia's three marriages as a way of annexing more territory. After her first marriage was annulled, Lucrezia's second husband, Alfonso, Duke of Bisceglie, was murdered by agents of Cesare, who then engineered her third marriage to Alfonso d'Este.