Bruno The Bear (a.k.a. Zachary Taylor) whose very best friend and traveling companion was an African male lion called Neil. Bruno and Neil even had their own room at a motel while they were making the movie.
Michael Sarrazin's name in the opening credits is listed as "participation". His "participation" in this movie amounts to appearing in a photograph at the end of the movie, portraying the husband of Rose Bean (Jacqueline Bisset). He does not physically appear in the movie.
John Milius wrote the screenplay with Lee Marvin in mind as Judge Roy Bean. He brought the script to Marvin when he was filming Pocket Money (1972) but Marvin fell asleep after one drink too many, his co-star Paul Newman found the screenplay, read it, loved it and petitioned for the part.
Steve Kanaly and Victoria Principal who both debuted in this film also starred together in the Dallas (1978) television series. Don Starr, who played the theatre manager, also appeared regularly throughout the series as oil baron Jordan Lee.
Although her image appears throughout the movie and her character is a prominent part of the town history, Ava Gardner does not make a personal appearance until approximately 15 before the end of the movie.
John Huston acknowledged the film's lack of success in his autobiography, "An Open Book" writing that it was not exactly a failure, "...but you could hardly call it a roaring success. It didn't take off, as they say. Still, there were some very good things in it." Huston felt that the story was "...in the fine old American tradition of the Tall Tale, the Whopper, the yarn peopled with outrageous characters capable of prodigious and highly improbable deeds. At the same time, it said something important about frontier life and the loss of America's innocence." Huston owned up to the scattershot nature of the storytelling, and wrote that "to heighten the effect, I made deliberate use of a technique that has since become much more popular, letting all sorts of events occur without logical justification. Things appear, things happen, funny, sad, comic, dramatic. Ludicrous one minute and sober the next."
According to John Huston, "The writer of the original script, John Milius, was there all the time, we'd work at night. He was a joy to work with, and entered into new ideas with great enthusiasm. It turned out to be one of those pictures that we wrote as we went along." Milius refuted that account, however. The writer said that his original script was less of a cartoonish satire and that the Judge was a multi-dimensional character. "There were dark, evil sides to that man, as well as funny, charming sides. You saw that the evil was necessary at first, but that, as time progressed, it was no longer needed... The whole thing was horribly mangled."
John Milius said that John Huston "would explain what he was doing to me all the time. We had a strange relationship. He tortured me constantly, changing things and doing scenes, I thought, deliberately wrong. At the same time, he would explain his options and why he made the decision he made, right or wrong; or the different ways he could have done it. I watched the way an atmosphere was created on the set, watched the way he would respond to an actor resisting him and the way he dealt with an actor going along with him too easily. How he would deal with bad actors. I remember one time when he had someone he said was the worst he'd ever had, and I asked him, what do you do? And he said, "Not a damn thing, I have no idea." He just went back to his trailer."
The shooting location was about an hour-and-a-half outside of Tucson; John Huston himself lived on the location for the duration of the shoot. He later wrote, "...I was the only one who did, except a watchman. The others went back to the town, but I stayed there all the time in a trailer. I've been on so many locations, and I've often wondered why everyone takes fatiguing, back-breaking journeys backwards and forwards, day after day, sometimes an hour's journey over rough roads, and I've often thought why not stay there, with the comfortable trailers you can live in today?"