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Los Angeles Times reported on March 17, 1956 that C. V. Whitney and Merian C. Cooper had just purchased John Burress' novel The Missouri Traveler and assigned Frank Nugent to write the adaptation. At that time, the producers planned to shoot the film entirely on location in Missouri, in the VistaVision process. A April 17, 1956 Daily Variety article stated that Ted Tetzlaff was to be the director. In February 1957, Los Angeles Examiner stated that Whitney wanted Barbara Stanwyck to play a lead role. As noted in a March 1957 Daily Variety news item, Warner Bros. was originally set to distribute the film (much of which ultimately was shot at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, CA). By July 1957, however, Hollywood Reporter reported that Buena Vista was handling distribution of the picture.
Hollywood Reporter noted in April 1957 that some scenes were shot on location at the Rowland V. Lee Ranch in the San Fernando Valley, CA. The Missouri Traveler marked the second in Whitney's "American" series, which began with the 1956 Warner Bros. film The Searchers, directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne (see below). According to the pressbook, the producer planned the series to be "based on American themes, reflecting American history and its peoples at various periods and in different locales of the United States." In April 1957, Los Angeles Times announced the casting of Mary Hosford, a socially prominent society woman, marking her film debut. The Hollywood Reporter reviewer described her perfomance as containing "warmth and charm although she is not, at the moment, an actress at all." Although Hollywood Reporter news items add Pat Alyward, Gertrude Astor, Ward Bond and Jack Carey to the cast, Bond was not in the released film and the appearance of the other actors has not been confirmed.