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According to Daily Variety, Warner Bros. acquired the rights to Robert Penn Warren's novel on September 13, 1955, a few months before its publication. Hollywood Reporter stated that the title, Band of Angels, "referred to the short life expectancy of freed Negros who fought with Union troops during the war," but commented that the film dealt very little with this subject. Many of the reviews criticized the film's superficial and melodramatic treatment of racial issues. A number of reviews noted discrepancies between the novel and the film. Hollywood Reporter stated that in the novel, "the story seems to have been of a girl torn between two worlds. In the picture there is only the vaguest hint of a potential romance between Miss De Carlo and Poitier....The screenwriters seem to have been held back from being more explicit in their delineation of the De Carlo-Poitier relationship." New Yorker commented, "What Mr. Warren was after in his novel was a description of Southern society when slavery was still the order of the day. What we are offered here is a spate of romantic hokum." Daily Variety predicted that the film would encounter opposition below the Mason-Dixon Line.
According to a memo dated November 14, 1956 in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the story as originally presented to the PCA was "an unacceptable treatment of illicit sex between the leading characters" because of their master-slave relationship. A certificate of approval was granted only after the scenes containing illicit sex were removed. Location shooting took place near Baton Rouge, LA, on the banks of the Mississippi River, and on two antebellum plantations. A packet boat more than one hundred years old was also used in the film, according to an August 1957 BHC item.