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Working titles for this film were Born to Die, I Am Joaquin, In Old California and Murietta. The film is loosely based on the life of legendary Mexican bandit Joaquin Murieta. For more information on Murieta, see the entry above for The Avenger, which was also about him. A January 1936 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that although this picture was nearly completed in late August 1935, M-G-M held up its release in order to "get the full effect of the serialization of the story." The novelization of the film was written by Peter B. Kyne and appeared serially in 130 newspapers throughout the country. The studio set an April 1936 release date; however, a March 1936 Hollywood Reporter article stated that M-G-M decided to rush the release of the picture due to a temporary shortage of M-G-M pictures ready for release in the New York area. The article also indicates that the studio planned to "roadshow" the film in Boston and Miami Beach one week after the New York showing. The Miami Beach booking was reportedly designed to "grab off business" before the end of the Florida tourist season. According to an April 1936 Hollywood Reporter news item, the release of the picture in England was held up due to objections raised by the British censor board to three aspects of the film: scenes showing horses falling; the depiction of a man being shot to death following a fighting scene; and references to the slicing off a Chinese man's ears. The British release was postponed until M-G-M completed protection shots for those scenes. A Hollywood Reporter pre-production news item stated that actor Leo Carrillo was to star in this film, and that Raoul Walsh was sought to direct. Subsequent Hollywood Reporter news items noted that Joseph Calliea, who was originally signed to play "Three Fingered Jack," was moved to the starring role. Calliea was later pulled from the lead because the studio decided he was too old to play the part of a man who died at the age of twenty-three. Ironically, his replacement, Warner Baxter, was forty-four at the time of the production, six years older than Calleia. Hollywood Reporter pre-production news items also noted that actress Margo replaced Jean Parker as "Juanita," and was later shifted to the role of "Rosita" after a young Brooklyn College student named Anita Kurtin won a Hollywood screen test and the starring role in the film. Following Kurtin's assignment to the part, her name was changed to Ann Loring. In addition, Hollywood Reporter notes that William Henry was originally set to play "Johnny Warren," and Bradley Page was set for the part of "Slocum." Hollywood Reporter news items list actors Lucio Villegas, Elizabeth Wilbur, George Chandler and Gayne Whitman in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. According to Hollywood Reporter, one month prior to the start of production, M-G-M sent a troupe of twenty-seven carpenters, painters and art directors to Sonoma County, California, to reconstruct several old mining camps, including the local landmarks Angels Camp and Sawmill Flats. Hollywood Reporter news items also relate the following information: Chester Hale prepared the bandit dance number, featuring Carlotta Monti and Perez. (Perez's first name has not been determined). H. O. Bombacher, one of the oldest residents of the ghost town of Springfield, California, was hired as a technical adviser on the picture. Director William Wellman planned to use three hundred cowboys in the film. Warner Baxter suffered from a "nervous strain" which was attributed to having to wear a noisy pair of forged iron spurs for twelve weeks. The actor was advised by his physician to recover in the quiet of his home.