The film is based on author Michael Blankfort's novel with the same title. Initially, producer Stanley Kramer wanted author Michael Blankfort to direct the film but Blankfort was refused a passport for travel to Israel by the United States State Department because Blankfort had been a Communist many years earlier.Kramer reassigned the film to director Edward Dmytryk who served almost a year in prison in 1948 after being convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to divulge his political affiliations.After his release from prison, Dmytryk moved to England but returned to the U.S. and gave testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities and, as a result, was removed from the film industry "blacklist".
Kirk Douglas had a severe argument on the set with director Edward Dmytryk because he - Douglas - had to stay too long on the set for the close up shooting. But Douglas eventually apologies to his director by sending him a large box of cigars and bouquets of flowers.
The Israeli chief of police in charge of the vicinity where the shooting took place told the director Dmytryk that there was some complaints about the fact that the movie production was too hard for Israeli crews. Dmytryk told in his biography that he took this as a compliment.