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The working title of the film was The Dark Page. A 1948 Los Angeles Times news item indicated that John Payne was set to star in the film for producer Sidney Buchman. Two years later a Hollywood Reporter item noted that William Holden was to co-star with Broderick Crawford for producer Jules Schermer. According to the same item, Ted Sherdeman was rewriting George Bruce's script, but Bruce's contribution to the final film, if any, has not been confirmed. Another 1950 Hollywood Reporter item announced that agent Arthur Landau was suing Columbia for $10,000, claiming to have presented the property to Schermer and the studio.
The same item revealed that author Sam Fuller was also in litigation against Famous Artists Corp. According to the news item, Fuller sold his novel, The Dark Page, to H-F Productions for $15,000, and director Howard Hawks spent $25,000 on pre-production for producer Jules Furthman. Monterey Productions later purchased the novel, then sold it to Motion Pictures Investors, Inc., which then sold it to Columbia for $10,000. In his suit, Fuller claimed the novel's worth was $100,000. A 1951 Hollywood Reporter item indicates that Fuller's successful production of The Steel Helmet revived interest in producing The Dark Page. Modern sources note that prior to his film career, screenwriter, producer and director Fuller was a crime reporter, novelist, tramp and soldier. The dispositions of Landau's and Fuller's suits have not been determined.