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The opening title cards read "Twentieth Century-Fox presents Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara in Rafael Sabatini's The Black Swan." Sabatini's novel first appeared as a serial in the London Daily Mail (21 January-29 February 1932). The film is based in part on the real-life pirate Sir Henry Morgan (1635-1688). Welsh-born Morgan and his men plundered the Caribbean in many daring raids until his arrest in 1672, after which he was sent to England for trial. Due to the deteriorating relations between England and Spain, however, King Charles II pardoned and knighted Morgan in 1674 and sent him back to Jamaica as the deputy governor. According to the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection and the Records of the Legal Department, both located at the UCLA Arts-Special Collection Library, Sam Hellman and John Taintor Foote worked on early versions of the screenplay, although the extent of their contributions to the completed film has not been determined. Conference notes in the collection indicate that in mid-1941, Rouben Mamoulian was considering directing the picture. Hollywood Reporter news items add that Lou Edelman was originally scheduled to produce the film, and that after Edelman left Twentieth Century-Fox in the summer of 1941, Robert T. Kane was assigned to succeed him as the film's producer. Kane was in turn replaced by Robert Bassler.
A May 28, 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that child actress Ann Todd was to be replaced in the cast due to a fractured ankle, and a studio press release stated that Helen Costello was included in the cast. Costello's appearance in the finished film has not been confirmed, however. According to Hollywood Reporter news items and studio press releases, extensive shooting of background footage was done on location in Florida, Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica and Honduras. The studio briefly considered filming at the Great Lakes and also in Puerto Rico; the latter was ruled out in March 1941 after it had become "a battle zone." Although the Variety review asserted that this film would be Tyrone Power's last for the duration of the war, he subsequently appeared in Crash Dive (see below) before entering the Marine Corps. The film received an Academy Award for Best Cinematography (color), and nominations for Best Music (scoring of a dramatic or comedy picture) and Best Special Effects (Fred Sersen, photography; Roger Heman and George Leverett, sound). According to a 1945 New York Times article, the ship used in the picture was later used in That Hamilton Woman, The Princess and the Pirate and Captain Kidd (see below for all).