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A written prologue states that in Colorado, the white man first fought the Indians for possession of the land and then turned on his fellow white man. According to a February 24, 1955 Los Angeles Examiner news item, producer Edmund Grainger originally approached Richard Burton to play "Owen Pentecost." In March 1955, Los Angeles Times reported that Grainger was considering either William Powell or Robert Mitchum to play Owen, Joe E. Brown to play "Father Murphy" and Shelley Winters and Grace Kelly for the female leads. Grainger borrowed Virginia Mayo from Warner Bros. for the film.
Press materials state that Great Day in the Morning was shot mainly on location in Silverton, CO. Although August 1955 Hollywood Reporter news items add George Wallace and Dorothy Bewley to the cast, and a September 1955 Hollywood Reporter production chart includes actor Scott Douglas, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a April 13, 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad offered special excursion rates to Denver in order to attend the film's premiere on May 16, 1956. Modern sources add Lane Chandler, Ben Corbett, Dennis Moore and Kermit Maynard to the cast.