Actor Kurt Kreuger said that in the scene where he tried to escape back to his lines with the Sudanese Sgt. played by Rex Ingram in pursuit, that when Rex Ingram caught him and pressed his face into the sand to kill him, that Kreuger almost passed out for lack of air. Kreuger spoke with this author on the phone of this story.
According to the documentary Going Hollywood: The War Years (1988), two months after Italy surrendered in World War II, this movie was released with an Italian as a principal character - and a good guy. This was J. Carrol Naish playing Giuseppe.
For much of production, the cast and crew were based in Brawley, California, a small town about 40 miles from the filming location. At the time, Brawley offered little in terms of evening diversions so Humphrey Bogart hosted many of his colleagues in his suite at the Planter's Hotel. Other cast members described Bogart as outgoing, generous, and an adept bartender, but the late night drinking meant that Bogart arrived on set hungover and quarrelsome. The behavior led to clashes with director Zoltan Korda.
The Sahara desert in this movie was portrayed by the California desert's Borego Desert which is located in the Imperial Valley, north of the American-Mexican border as well as Brawley, Imperial County, California; Chatsworth, California and the sand dunes of Yuma, Arizona.
Two thousand tons of sand were transported to the filming set in order to create the feel of loose desert sand, so reported the 'New York Times'. The newspaper also reported that shadows were spray-painted on desert hills to make them be seen more clearly by the audience. Moreover, sand dune ripples were created by spray-painting the sand with light paint and then turning on a wind-machine.
According to the 'Hollywood Reporter', this movies premiere was held at Camp Campbell (aka Fort Campbell) in Kentucky. This event was included as part of a program to celebrate the 1st Anniversary of the formation of the IV Armored Corps of the Army Ground Forces, United States Army.
Humphrey Bogart had recently signed a new contract with Warner Brothers and one of the perks of his new deal was that he was allowed to act in one film per year outside of his home studio. Bogart quite liked Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, and decided that he would enjoy working on a Columbia produced film. Bogart's friendly relationship with Cohn was noteworthy, as many members of the film industry found Cohn to be notoriously unpleasant and abrasive. Bogart's decision to work for Columbia, even in a one film per year deal, was massive for the studio, which lacked the star power of its rivals. This film marked the first of several film collaborations between Bogart and Columbia Pictures, at the rate of one per year. While he was on loan to Columbia, Bogart was the studio's biggest star.
The film's opening prologue states: 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 - - .
Make-up artist Harry Pringle created the look of sweat and perspiration on the actors' faces by mixing Vaseline with water. According to 'Look' magazine, he would rub Vaseline on their faces then spray their faces with water.
The 'Hollywood Reporter' during mid January 1943 reported that Humphrey Bogart replaced Brian Donlevy for this Columbia Studios film whilst Donlevy in turn replaced Bogart on the same studio's Once Upon a Time (1944). Donlevy was reportedly tired of appearing in war pictures and he doesn't actually appear in the credits for Once Upon a Time (1944).
During the production, cast and crew resided at the Planter's Hotel in Brawley, Imperial County, California. The hotel was located approximately forty miles from the location where the film was shooting. Over the years the hotel guests included other notables including Clark Gabel and John Wayne. The place was later abandoned and eventually burned down in 2007. It has since been razed.
In November 1942, Camp Laguna in Yuma, Arizona started as a major training site for George S. Patton's armored units. It was one of fourteen such camps built in the southwestern deserts to train United States troops during World War II. It was a major training facility for units engaged in combat during the 1942-1943 North African campaign. The desert was extremely suitable for the large-scale maneuvers necessary to prepare inexperienced American soldiers for combat against the highly trained and much feared German Afrika Korps in the North African desert.
A 'Hollywood Reporter' production report once stated Jess Barker; Bill Carter and Lewis Wilson being cast in this movie but none of them feature in the film's credits and they are either uncredited or do not appear in the film.