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Pre-release titles included In the Deep South, The Deep South and Death in the Deep South. A February 17, 1937 news item in Hollywood Reporter states that Dalton S. Reymond, a professor at the University of Louisiana would be technical director. His participation in the film has not been confirmed, however. Lana Turner's brief appearance in this film earned her the nickname "The Sweater Girl" and established her as a potential star. The following year, when director Mervyn LeRoy left Warner Bros., he took Turner with him to M-G-M, where she signed a long-term contract. Gloria Dickson made her film debut in the picture. The National Board of Review named the film one of the year's top ten and New York Times placed it on their ten best list. Modern sources indicate that Ward Greene's novel was based on the Leo Frank trial of 1915. Greene covered the case as a reporter for The Atlanta Journal. In 1915, Circle Film Corp. produced Thou Shalt Not Kill, which was based on the Leo Frank trial. It was directed by Hal Reid and starred Rose Coghlan and Charles Coghlan (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.4445). Reid also made a documentary short on the subject called Leo M. Frank, released a few months before the above film. Other films based on the Frank case include the 1935 film Lem Hawkins' Confession, directed by Oscar Micheaux and starring Clarence Brooks and Dorothy Van Engle, (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.2453) and the 1988 NBC miniseries, The Murder of Mary Phagan, which starred Jack Lemmon and was directed by George Stevens Jr.