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The film's title card reads: "John Steinbeck's The Wayward Bus." A January 1952 New York Times news item notes that Charles K. Feldman bought the rights to Steinbeck's novel, and hoped to star Jennifer Jones and Marlon Brando. According to the article, William Saroyan was to write the screenplay and George Stevens was to direct the production, which was to be filmed at the Samuel Goldwyn Studios. In September 1955, a Daily Variety news item noted that Twentieth Century-Fox had bought the rights to the novel from Feldman. Pre-production news items in Hollywood Reporter note that Robert Mitchum, Richard Widmark, Susan Hayward and Gene Tierney were considered for leads in the film, and Henry Hathaway was to direct. The Wayward Bus marked European director Victor Vicas' American feature debut.