- Residents of the area around Stockton, California were used as extras in the film; often, director Robert Rossen would give them speaking parts and film the "rehearsals" to get a more spontaneous effect.
- To prepare for the role of Willie Stark, Broderick Crawford watched newsreels of Huey Long, on whose life the novel was loosely based.
- Mercedes McCambridge was cast after she got angry with the producers. She and other actresses were kept waiting in an office in New York City during open auditions. McCambridge told the producers off and stormed out of the office. They called her back and eventually cast her because she fit the part of Sadie.
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