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In March 1957, Los Angeles Times announced that Paramount had bought the Luke Short story "The Hangman" and was considering starring James Cagney in the film. According to modern information, Short's story first appeared under the title "Pull Your Freight" in Riders West, but the date of that publication has not been determined. The story was later published as "The Hangman" in a short story compilation entitled Iron Men and Silver Stars (Greenwich, CT, 1967).
By August 1958, Hollywood Reporter stated that Inger Stevens was being cast as "Selah Jennison" and that, because Edward Dmytryk was busy shooting Warlock (see below), Michael Curtiz would also take over as the producer and director of The Hangman. Although Hollywood Reporter also noted in August 1958 that W. R. Burnett had been hired to work on the screenplay, Dudley Nichols is the only writer credited onscreen. An April 1959 IHR news item stated that John Ashley was to record the film's title song, but no such song is included in the final film. Reviews for The Hangman were generally poor, with both Variety and Hollywood Reporter criticizing the filmmakers for including two scenes of Tina Louise bathing.