According to Penny Stallings' "Flesh and Fantasy", the crew broke into spontaneous applause after one of Mercedes McCambridge's powerhouse scenes, which infuriated star Joan Crawford. According to Nicholas Ray, he then began shooting the younger actress' scenes in the early morning before Crawford got there. After the star witnessed one of these early shoots, she flew into a rage, broke into McCambridge's dressing room and slashed her clothes to shreds. McCambridge blamed her next two years of inactivity on Crawford's repeated attempts to blacklist her.
At one point in the movie Johnny says, "I'm a stranger here myself." This was Nicholas Ray's own personal motto, a recurring theme in his movies, and reportedly the working title for just about every movie he directed.
Joan Crawford, who had bought the rights to the novel, selling it to Republic Pictures with the provision that she would star, initially wanted Claire Trevor to play the part of Emma and was jealous of the younger, competitive Mercedes McCambridge.
Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge fought both on and off camera. One night, in a drunken rage, Crawford scattered the costumes worn by McCambridge along an Arizona highway. Cast and crew had to collect the outfits.
Although Philip Yordan is credited as a screenwriter on the film, his contribution to the screenplay actually was written by Ben Maddow, whom Yordan fronted for, splitting the fee with the black-listed writer.