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The following written prologue appears after the opening credits: "This is the story of a confidence-man-that often unsung but seldom unhung aristocrat of the old West." The film ends with the following written epilogue: "And when I die don't bury me deep; leave one hand free to fleece the sheep." Hollywood Reporter production charts include Rags Ragland in the cast, but he was not in the released film. Actors Ralph Peters, Eddie Gribbon, Syd Saylor, Harry Semels, Frank Mills and Art Belasco were listed in the CBCS as "Pallbearers," but they were not in the viewed print. William Daniels was the film's original directory of photography but in late June 1941 he was replaced due to illness by Harold Rosson.
Hollywood Reporter news items and early production charts credit Edwin V. Westrate as the writer of an original story entitled "The Reign of Soapy Smith," upon which the film Honky Tonk was to be based. According to modern sources, although the character of "Candy Johnson" was fashioned after a real-life conman named Soapy Smith, Smith's heirs demanded too high a price for the rights to his story, so M-G-M changed the screenplay. Westrate is not credited on the film, in reviews or the SAB, and the extent of his contribution to the released film has not been determined.
Albert Dekker was borrowed from Paramount for the production. Honky Tonk was the first of four films in which Clark Gable and Lana Turner co-starred, all of them made for M-G-M. Their last film together was Betrayed in 1954. Reviewers commented on the box office appeal of the co-stars, and a Hollywood Reporter news item in October 1941 noted that Honky Tonk was M-G-M's biggest money-maker of the year. Turner recreated her role in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on April 8, 1946, co-starring John Hodiak and Gale Gordon.