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According to a May 24, 1950 Hollywood Reporter news item, the novel He Ran All the Way was originally bought by Liberty Films from author Sam Ross in 1947 as a directing vehicle for George Stevens. In 1950 Bob Roberts of Roberts Productions, Inc. bought the property from Liberty. A November 10, 1950 Hollywood Reporter production chart credits Steve Bass with sound for the film, although onscreen credits list Vic Appel and Mac Dagleish. According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the Breen Office objected to the "excessive brutality" exhibited by the character "Nick Robey" and prohibited scenes showing a policeman being killed at the hands of criminals. The scene in which the policeman is shot was changed from an immediate death to the policeman being wounded at the time of the crime. Several of the film's violent scenes were altered and the policeman was wounded, instead of killed, in the opening scenes. Location shooting took place at the Long Beach Plunge public swimming pool and Nu-Pike, a mile-long waterfront amusement park in Long Beach, CA.
Star John Garfield, who was blacklisted by the HUAC in 1951 for refusing to name friends as communists, died in 1952. He Ran All the Way was his last film. It was also the last feature-length film John Berry made before being identified as a communist and blacklisted by the HUAC. Although not listed in the credits, Dalton Trumbo co-wrote the film's screenplay with credited writer Hugo Butler. Trumbo was jailed in 1947 for refusing to testify before HUAC and his credit on the film was officially restored by the WGA in 2000; Guy Endore acted as his front.