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Voice-over narration, spoken by Howard Keel as the adult "Chip Mitchell," is heard intermittently throughout the film. According to a December 17, 1947 Hollywood Reporter news item, M-G-M originally optioned Bernard DeVoto's novel as a vehicle for Spencer Tracy. According to modern sources, the narration was added after principal photography was completed at the suggestion of M-G-M producer Sam Zimbalist. Mara Elena Marqus made her Hollywood screen debut in the picture.
Modern sources note that except for a small amount of studio interiors, the film was shot entirely on location in the Rocky Mountains, mostly at altitudes between 9,000 and 14,000 feet. According to Hollywood Reporter production charts, Durango, CO, was the main location site. To cope with fast-changing weather conditions, the crew prepared two stand-by set-ups for each scene, and were aided by a four-wheel drive camera car with a front-mounted hydrolic. Across the Wide Missouri marked the last screen appearance of well-known character actor Jack Holt (1888-1951).