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According to Variety, M-G-M purchased the rights to Oliver La Farge's novel from Universal. Onscreen credits refer to the work as "the Pulitzer Prize novel." A June 1932 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Richard Arlen had tested "in Indian makeup" for the lead in the film. In late August 1932, Hollywood Reporter announced that the production had been postponed because a suitable lead had not been found. Scenes for the film were shot on an Arizona Navajo reservation and near Cameron and Flagstaff, AZ. According to Daily Variety, director W. S. Van Dyke, production manager Bud Barsky and star Ramon Novarro were made honoray chiefs of the Navajo tribe during filming. A June 1933 Hollywood Reporter article states that Lynn Riggs was assigned to write a screen treatment for this film. This writer's contribution to the production, if any, has not been determined. The Variety reviewer noted that, because of objections from the New York censor board, parts of the film, including the scene in which "Slim Girl" and "Laughing Boy" camp out together, were deleted for screenings in that state. Variety's running time for the picture was only 75 minutes.