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The working titles of this film were Legend of the Inca and Legend of the Incas. Opening credits conclude with the following written statement: "In the high Andes of Peru-where much of this picture was filmed-the descendants of the Inca have searched for centuries for the symbol of their past glories-a fabulous golden disc encrusted with jewels-there are others-who search-but only for gold." As noted in news items and publicity materials, the picture was shot largely in Cuzco and Machu Picchu, Peru, and marked the first time that a major Hollywood studio filmed there. Five hundred Indians were used as extras in the film, according to publicity materials.
According to a June 1953 Los Angeles Times item, Wendell Corey and Viveca Lindfors were originally set to star in the picture. Peruvian-born singer Yma Sumac, who was of Indian-Spanish descent, made her screen debut in the film. In a February 1954 San Francisco Chronicle article, writer Sidney Boehm claimed he got the idea for the picture after meeting Sumac at a party. Hollywood Reporter news items add Rankin Mansfield, Miguel Contreras, Delmar Costello, Rodolfo Hoyos, Zachary Yaconelli and Carlos Rivera to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. On December 14, 1954, Charlton Heston and Nicole Maurey reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theatre version of the story.