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Although onscreen credits list the character played by Dana Andrews as "Bart Cobble," the Variety review lists his name as "Hod Johnson." According to news items in Hollywood Reporter, the film was shot on location near Tucson, AZ, in a town that was established for the express purpose of being a headquarters for the crew. When the newly made town was founed, then governor R. T. Jones was present. Shooting was briefly delayed when star Gary Cooper was injured in a fall from a horse. Later items in Hollywood Reporter note that in February 1940, director Lewis Milestone and photographer Rudolph Mat shot additional scenes for the film. The Daily Variety review adds that the picture cost approximately $2,000,000 to produce. Judge Roy Bean, who called himself "the Law West of the Pecos," was a real person. He was justice of the peace in Langtry, Texas, named after British actress Lily Langtry whom he loved from afar. Walter Brennan won his third Academy Award for his portrayal of Judge Bean in this picture. Brennan was the only performer to win three Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Story and Best Art Direction. According to modern sources, Cooper almost broke his contract with Goldwyn because he did not want to play the role of Cole Harden. Modern sources also note that Goldwyn attempted to distribute the picture through Warner Bros., but United Artists prevented this by threatening Warners with a lawsuit. Modern sources state that Lillian Hellman and Oliver La Farge did rewrites on the script, and that William Wyler, dissatisfied with Dimitri Tiomkin's score, had Alfred Newman rewrite it, although Tiomkin received sole screen credit.
In September 1940, Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan starred in a Lux Radio Theater version of the story. Several other films have been based on the exploits of Judge Roy Bean. A character in RKO's 1938 film The Law West of Tombstone was loosely based on the judge, and the 1972 First Artists Production The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, directed by John Huston and starring Paul Newman and Huston, detailed the exploits of the judge.