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The working title of the film was Steel Cavalry. The opening credits read, "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents with the gratefully acknowledged cooperation of the United States Army." The picture opens with a prologue consisting of a dedication, montage and narration explaining the history and importance of all divisions of the U.S. Army. The prologue, which is musically accompanied by the old cavalry song "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," ends with the words "...America entrusts the future of human liberty to the strong hands of these young men. Is there any here who will not say 'God bless and keep them?'" According to a September 18, 1941 news item in Hollywood Reporter, Richard Thorpe filled in for director S. Sylvan Simon while Simon was ill with the flu.
A news item in Hollywood Reporter on December 8, 1932 noted that M-G-M had planned an earlier production of The Bugle Sounds that was to be produced by George Fitzmaurice and directed by Sam Wood. The 1932 project was in no way related to the 1941 production, but was actually an unrealized project that began in 1929 as a vehicle to co-star Wallace Beery and Lon Chaney, Jr. as sergeants in the French Foreign Legion.
Hollywood Reporter news items from August through October 1941, as well as a New York Times feature article on November 30, 1941, report that much of the film was shot on location at Fort Ord, CA, with some backgrounds shot at Fort Knox, KY and Fort Lewis, WA. News items also reported that M-G-M additionally needed to construct on the lot a huge replica of Fort Knox and Fort Lewis. A Hollywood Reporter news item on September 2, 1941 noted that Major-General Adna R. Chaffee, who had served as a U.S. Cavalry officer for twenty-five years but had just died the previous week, was originally to act as the film's technical advisor. Actor Arthur Space, who had previously worked on the stage, was brought to Hollywood by M-G-M in late 1941. The Bugle Sounds was the first motion picture in his forty-year career as a character actor in films and on television. Wallace Beery recreated his role for a Lux Radio Theatre presentation of the story on January 4, 1943.