Errol Flynn's alcoholism had become a round-the-clock problem, and he was frequently at odds with John Huston. At one point, he provoked Huston into a fight; while Flynn was a former amateur boxer, the years of fast living had taken a heavy toll on him, and Huston, himself a former professional boxer, flattened Flynn with a single punch.
Orson Welles did his part in two days at a Paris studio. His rate was normally $15,000 but he did it gratis in order to repay Darryl F. Zanuck for helping Welles find the funds to complete Othello (1951).
According to Orson Welles, Errol Flynn was mainlining heroin throughout the shoot, and thus it was no great surprise to anyone on the film that he died at age 50 only a few months after completing his part.
As had happened during shooting of The African Queen (1951) almost every person involved contracted amoebic dysentery except for John Huston and Errol Flynn, who had brought copious amounts of alcohol which kept the sickness at bay.
On the irony of a big game hunter like Huston making a movie about a militant elephant conservationist, John Huston said "Contrary to prevailing opinion, I never found an elephant big enough to justify the sin of killing one."
When Darryl F. Zanuck appeared as the mystery guest on What's My Line? (1950) just before this film was released, he said the temperatures during filming reached over 130 degrees in the daytime and only got down to 95 at night. The cast and crew were in French Equatorial Africa for 6 months making the movie and he vowed never to return.
The film was mostly made on location in Africa over five months, in the Belgian Congo and Tchad in the Northern Cameroons, where the elephants were located. The cast and crew suffered from the heat, malaria and other tropical diseases. Temperatures would routinely reach 134 degrees in the day and 95 degrees at night; people had to shower four or five times a night. On some days it would be a four hour drive to the location and back and all the water had to be flown in.