Warner Bros. approached Frank Lloyd Wright (who had been the inspiration for Ayn Rand's character, Howard Roark), and asked him to submit some architectural designs to be used in the film. However, the studio balked when Wright requested his usual fee of $250,000, and decided instead to leave the designs to the film's art director, Edward Carrere.
The film's failure was largely attributed to Gary Cooper, who at 47 was much older than his twenty-something character and was considered by many critics to be unconvincing playing a man with high ideals.
Director King Vidor originally hoped to cast Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in the lead roles, but Ayn Rand insisted on Gary Cooper in the lead. Bacall was cast opposite Cooper, but dropped out before filming began. Hoping the film would make her a star, Warner Bros cast a relative unknown, 22-year-old Patricia Neal, after considering and then rejecting Bette Davis, Ida Lupino, Alexis Smith, and Barbara Stanwyck as replacements for Bacall. Gary Cooper objected to Neal being cast, but during filming, Cooper and Neal began an affair.
Ayn Rand was furious when she heard that Howard Roark's speech at the trial was being trimmed, chiefly because it was considered long, rambling and confusing, especially to Gary Cooper who didn't understand it. She got the studio to make sure that the speech was untouched and in its entirety in the finished product.
The foyer and inner office of the "New York Civic Opera Company" in the film was first used as the reception room and office of Jerome Cowan's character, Carlton Towne in the 1948 Bette Davis film, June Bride (1948).
The view from Gail Wynand's office appears to be the view from the dome of the former New York World Building on Park Row, which contained the office of publisher Joseph Pulitzer, the World's publisher. Despite this, the character of Gail Wynand is believed to be based on Pulitzer's arch-rival William Randolph Hearst.