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The opening credits read "RKO presents Pearl Buck's China Sky." News items in Hollywood Reporter provide the following information about the film's long production history: RKO bought the rights to Buck's story in September 1941. By February 1942, Islin Auster was signed to produce the picture and in April 1942, Robert Stevenson was slated to direct it. By May 1943, Emmet Lavery was scheduled to write the screen adaptation as well as produce the film. Luise Ranier, Margo, Maureen O'Hara and Kim Hunter were all considered for female leads in the picture and Paul Henreid was considered for the male lead. At one point, David Hempstead was to produce, with Claudette Colbert playing the lead. Materials contained in the RKO Archives Script Files at the UCLA Art Library-Special Collections add that Roy Chanslor, Ketti Frings, S. K. Lauren, Robert Stevenson and Crane Wilbur all worked on versions of the screenplay, but the extent of their contribution to the released film has not been determined.
In a New York Times article, producer Maurice Geraghty stated that one reason for the film's troubled production history was the studio's opposition to the original story line in which a Chinese doctor collaborates with the Japanese enemy. In Buck's story and in the early versions of the screenplay, an embittered, anti-American Chinese doctor named Chung agrees to help the Japanese officer for money. By mid-March of 1944, five months before the start of production, the doctor's nationality had been changed to Japanese-Korean and his name changed to Kim. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Bessie Loo, a Chinese technical advisor and interpreter, was hired as assistant director to work with the Chinese extras and bit players. Anthony Quinn was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox to appear in the picture. The Film Daily review incorrectly credits Roy Webb with music.