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The working title of this film was Somewhere in Sahara. Onscreen credits note that this picture was based on an incident in the Soviet photoplay The Thirteen. That film, released as Trinadstat in Russia, was a 1937 Amkino Soviet production directed by Mikhail Romm. The opening credits dedicate the film to "the IV Armored Corps of the Army Ground Forces, whose cooperation made it possible to tell this story." The opening credits also include the following prologue: "In June 1942, a small detachment of American tanks with American crews joined the British Eighth Army in North Africa to get experience in desert warfare under actual battle conditions. History has proved that they learned their lesson well..." Although the character played by Louis Mercier is named "Jean Leroux" in the CBCS and in reviews, his dog tags bear the name of "Pierre Leroux."
Hollywood Reporter news items yield the following information about this film's production: In November 1942, it was announced that the film was to star Glenn Ford and Melvyn Douglas and that Bernard Nedell was testing for a top role. Although an November 18, 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that Brian Aherne was to be in the cast, this reference might have been a typographical error for Brian Donlevy. A mid-January 1943 news item adds that Humphrey Bogart was replacing Brian Donlevy, who was tired of appearing in war films. Donlevy then took over the role Bogart was to have played in the Columbia comedy Once Upon a Time. A Hollywood Reporter production chart places Lewis Wilson, Jess Barker and William Carter in the cast, but their participation in the released film has not been confirmed.
Desert scenes were shot on location at Brawley, the Imperial Valley and Chatsworth, CA, and Yuma, AZ, according to Hollywood Reporter news items. Makeup artist Henry Pringle created the effect of facial perspiration by coating the actors' faces with vaseline and then spraying them with water, according to a Look article. A news item in New York Times adds that 2,000 tons of sand were hauled onto the set to create the effect of loose sand. The effect of ripples and swirls was created by spraying the sand with a film of light paint and then blowing it with a wind machine. Shadows were spray-painted on the hills to make them stand out more clearly, according to the New York Times article. The film had its premiere at Camp Campbell, KY, as part of a program celebrating the first anniversary of the activation of the IV Armored Corps, according to a news item in Hollywood Reporter. J. Carroll Naish was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in this film. The picture was also nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Sound Recording. The 1952 Columbia western Last of the Comanches, starring Broderick Crawford, Barbara Hale and Lloyd Bridges and directed by Andre de Toth, was loosely based on Sahara.