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The following written prologue introduces the film: "This motion picture is respectfully dedicated to the officers and men of the United States Marine Corps, whose cooperation in its production is gratefully acknowledged." Following the written prologue, John Payne, as "Capt. Sam MacKenzie", gives a brief, voice-over narration that introduces himself and the men of Easy Company. He explains that the film is their story and also the story of a bottle of Scotch. Payne gives a running voice-over narration throughout the film, commenting on the action and giving a verbal frame for the story's three flashbacks. At the end of the film, Payne's voice closes the story by saying that he [MacKenzie] still has the bottle and is saving it "for an important occasion."
According to various news items, Allied Artists had anticipated producing the adaptation of Pat Frank's 1952 novel as early as November 1954. In late 1954 and early 1955, the production was to star Richard Basehart and Neville Brand and was to be directed by Thomas Carr. However, according to a March 24, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, Allied Artists executive producer Walter Mirish announced that the picture was being taken off the studio's production schedule because some of the actors sought for leading roles would not be available before the heavy snowfall melted in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where much of the film was to be shot. The production went back onto the schedule in early 1956, with Allan Dwan directing.