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The film opens with the following onscreen prologue: "From the time of the Conquistadores, the search for treasure has drawn men to South America, fabled land of El Dorado. Nowhere has the call been stronger than in Colombia, whose mountains hide the most concentrated wealth of all-the jewel of green fire-the emerald." Studio publicity material dated September 14, 1953 announced that the film would be based on Peter W. Rainer's 1942 novel Green Fire. According to information in the M-G-M Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library, the galleys of Rainer's novel were read by the studio in September 1942, and a screenplay treatment by Everett Freeman, based on the novel, was submitted in December 1952. Aside from the setting, however, the final film's story does not resemble either the novel or the treatment.
A October 23, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Alix Talton would test for a role in the film, and March 1954 news items add Frank DeKova and Lucy Knox to the cast, but the appearance of these actors in the final film has not been confirmed. Portions of the film were shot on location in Barranquilla, along the Magdalena River and in the mountains surrounding Bogata, Colombia. According to a May 16, 1954 New York Times article, producer Armand Deutsch visited Colombia a year before the start of production, only to discover when he returned to begin filming that the country's government had been reorganized following a military revolution, leading to considerable bureaucratic problems. An May 11, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that additional location shooting took place in the hills behind Bel Air. According to a December 1960 Daily Variety news item, Harry Merrick brought a plagiarism suit against M-G-M related to Green Fire, but the case was dismissed in Superior Court.