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The opening credits state that the film's battle scenes were photographed at Arches National Monument Park and include a written acknowledgment commending the National Park Service of the United States Department of the Interior "whose splendid cooperation made these scenes possible." The film's remaining exteriors were shot in Professor Valley, near Moab, Utah. According to the Los Angeles Examiner review, Professor Valley was the actual site of Apache Pass.
The events depicted in the film are based on a true incident that occurred in 1861 when a rancher wrongfully accused Cochise of kidnapping his children and stealing his cattle. At a meeting between Cochise and Lt. George Bascom from Fort Buchanan, Bascom tried to arrest Cochise, who escaped, and each side took and murdered hostages. Most of the forts in Chiricahua country were indeed abandoned due to the need for troops to fight the Civil War. When reinforcements were sent in to protect the routes to California, a battle took place in Apache Pass between Cochise and troops led by Colonel James Carleton. Carleton claimed victory over the attackers by using howitzers and repeater rifles. The incident is credited with instigating twenty-five years of Apache unrest. Apparently Geronimo was not actually involved in this battle, and the character "Major Colton" is fictional. Contemporary reviews praised the film for its sympathetic, honest and authentic depiction of Indians. The Variety review applauded, in particular, Cochise's kindly treatment of his pregnant wife and the scenes of authentic Indian wrestling. Jeff Chandler also played Cochise in Twentieth Century-Fox's 1950 film, Broken Arrow .