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The working title of the film was You Can't Stop the Marines. After giving credit to Milton Sperling for the screen play with Ted Sherdeman, a later card in the opening credits reads: "Story and Produced by Milton Sperling." Retreat, Hell! depicts real life incidents that occurred during the Korean War: After landing at Inchon, Korea, the United States Marine First Battalion helped to reclaim Seoul for South Korea, then fought their way to within sixty miles of the North Korean border at the Chosin Reservoir, where they were overwhelmed by mass attacks by Communist Chinese, who had by then joined the fight. In December 1950, they were forced to withdraw.
Several reviews note that the film's title was taken from the historic words of Korean War Marine Gen. Oliver P. Smith, who, when asked if the Marines were retreating, responded, "Retreat, hell! We're just advancing in a different direction." Portions of the film were shot at Oceanside, CA, and at nearby Camp Pendleton, according to August and October 1951 Hollywood Reporter news items. An acknowledgment at the end of the film thanks the Department of Defense and United States Marine Corps for permitting use of actual combat film and for their aid and cooperation in the making of the picture. According to an October 1963 Film Daily news item, Retreat, Hell! was reissued, along with sixteen other films, by Herts-Lion International Corp.