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The opening credits include the following written statement: "When the Legends Die was photographed in Colorado and New Mexico with the help of the Southern Ute Tribe." According to a September 13, 1971 Daily Variety news item, portions of the film were shot on location in Durango, CO. Although the credits indicate that When the Legends Die marked Frederic Forrest's feature film debut, he appeared in the Canadian 1969 Astral Film production Futz!. A Daily Variety item noted that Forrest was part Cherokee.
According to a 1968 Publishers Weekly news item, Hal Borland's novel When the Legends Die was originally purchased by producer Stuart Millar for Universal Studios. The film marked Millar's first directorial effort. Although he continued to produce for films and television, the only other feature film he directed was the 1975 release Rooster Cogburn. A Daily Variety January 1970 item stated that Robert Blake had been set to star in the film and indicated the film was co-written by Robert Dozier and Frank Conroy. Conroy's contribution to the final script, if any, has not been determined.