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The film opens with the following prologue: "The Spanish Main-cruel, oppressive and ruthless, where power alone was a man's single title to everything he held dear, including his very life. It was thus a cruel fate that a peaceful Dutch pilgrim ship should be driven by torrential waves-and crash upon the rocks immediately outside Cartagena, its most remorseless citadel." According to pre-production news items in Hollywood Reporter, Merle Oberon, Laraine Day and Margo were considered for the role of "Francisca." A news item in New York Times notes that although Maureen O'Hara, who was finally cast in the role, was under contract to Twentieth Century-Fox, she also was committed to make one picture a year for RKO.
According to another news item in New York Times, process photography on this picture had to be postponed until after principal photography was completed because a labor dispute between the local AFI union and the set designers delayed the construction of miniatures. The picture was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Color Cinematography. The character of "Anne Bonny" was based on a famous female pirate. Bonny, who sailed the seas in the early 1700s, fought in men's clothing and was considered an expert with a pistol and cutlass. Other films featuring the character Anne Bonny include the 1951 Twentieth Century-Fox production Anne of the Indies, directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Jean Peters, and the 1995 Carolco picture Cutthroat Island, direced by Renny Harlin and starring Geena Davis.