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This film marked Canadian-born actor Alexander Knox's American motion picture debut. According to an article in October 1, 1937 Los Angeles Examiner, producer Mervyn LeRoy wanted to film the Jack London novel and planned to borrow Clark Gable from M-G-M to play the role of "Wolf Larsen." Memos reproduced in a modern source note that Warner Bros. offered Paul Muni the part of "Wolf Larsen," but he refused to consider it unless either Rafael Sabatini, Sidney Howard or Eugene O'Neill was assigned as the screenwriter. Subsequently, the film was taken out of development. In 1940, George Raft was offered the part of "George Leach," but as he considered it a bit part, he turned it down. After the success of the 1940 Warner Bros. film The Sea Hawk, the studio revived the project planning to re-use the $400,000 sets built for The Sea Hawk. Anatole Litvak was at that time assigned to direct.
News items in Hollywood Reporter add the following information about the production: Seventy-five carpenters were used to build the Ghost. Warner Bros. wanted Harry Carey for the film, but he was still working on Shepherd of the Hills . According to press releases in the file on the film in the AMPAS Library, the film's world premiere was the first to be held on a ship and took place aboard the luxury liner America during a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The film received two Oscar nominations for special effects: Byron Haskin was nominated for Best Photographic Special Effects and Nathan Levinson was nominated for Best Sound Effects. Several other versions of Jack London's novel have been filmed: In 1913, Hobart Bosworth directed and starred in The Sea Wolf. George Melford directed a version in 1920 for Famous Players-Lasky, which starred Noah Beery (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.3896 and F1.3897). An earlier version was produced by Balboa Amusement Producing Co., but was legally banned from exhibition (though it May have been screened prior to the injuction). In 1926, Producers Distributing Corp. released a version made by the Ralph W. Ince Corp., which Ralph Ince directed and starred in, and Fox Film Corp. produced and released a version in 1930, directed by Alfred Santell and starring Milton Sills (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.4867 and F2.4668). Allied Artists released Wolf Larsen, starring Barry Sullivan and directed by Harmon Jones, in 1958; and an Italian version, starring Chuck Connors, variously titled Wolf Larsen and Legend of the Sea Wolf, was made in 1975, with Giuseppe Vari directing. In 1993, a television version, starring Charles Bronson and Christopher Reeve, was broadcast on TNT.