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As noted in a January 1954 Los Angeles Times news item, producer Sam Wiesenthal bought the rights to Frank Gruber's novel Bitter Sage for $75,000 just before its publication. At that point, Gregory Peck was considered to play "Wes Tancred." In December 1955, according to a Hollywood Reporter item, Wiesenthal joined RKO in order to produce Tension at Table Rock for the studio, and in January 1956 Hollywood Reporter reported that Wiesenthal had sold the novel rights to RKO in exchange for a percentage of the film's grosses.
According to February 1956 Hollywood Reporter news items, Sterling Hayden was originally cast as "Fred Miller," and RKO considered Vince Edwards for a "starring role." RKO borrowed Cameron Mitchell from Twentieth Century-Fox to play Miller. A March 20, 1956 Hollywood Reporter article reported that James Anderson, who played "Lerner," broke his ankle during a fight scene and spent the rest of the production in a foot cast. February 1956 Hollywood Reporter news items stated that the film was shot partially on location in the Mojave Desert, the Circle J Ranch in Newhall, CA, and Red Rock Canyon, NV.