The film was not actually shot in widescreen. It was converted to "WarnerScope" in the final print after having been shot in standard Academy ratio, much like some films which are "matted" after having been shot in Academy ratio. The process used was contemporary of Superscope 235. It was filmed using spherical lenses at an aspect ratio of 1.37:1. In the printing process, the images were cropped to a height of 2 perforations giving them an aspect ratio of 2.36:1. The images were then stretched vertically to a height of 4 perforations, at which point they conformed to the standard CinemaScope-2 format. Severe matting is not too troublesome in the freshly filmed material, but disastrous in the case of enlarged archive footage.
This film was originally to be released by RKO Radio Pictures, but by the time it was ready for release, that studio had closed down and the film was distributed by Warner Bros. It may be the only instance where the logos of both companies appear on the same film. The TCM print bears an RKO Radio Pictures logo, stretched out to wide screen proportions, and an RKO Teleradio Pictures copyright statement.
The cameraman Stanley Cortez is sometimes credited as having worked on this film. He told an interviewer, years later, that he had worked on pre-production for the film for eight months, spending "weeks and weeks" scouting locations in Hawaii. He claimed that Charles Laughton had wanted him to be associate producer as well as cameraman, and that Spencer Tracy, Montgomery Clift and Burt Lancaster were all sought to play leading roles (none was in the final film). Cortez claimed that Laughton had planned it as an independent production with financing coming from a Philadelphia exhibitor named Goldman. Whether or not any footage shot by Cortez is in the finished film is not known.
Biographers of Charles Laughton, who had been the first director attached to this project, have been quick to disparage this film, often implying that Laughton would have made a far better one. However, the screenwriters, Terry and Denis Sanders, who were widely accused of travestying the original novel, were hired by Laughton and had completed a version of the screenplay before he abandoned the film. It is also highly likely that Laughton brought in Stanley Cortez as cameraman after their extremely harmonious working relationship on "The Night Of The Hunter".
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
In the Norman Mailer novel, Lt. Hearn is killed when Sgt. Croft allows him to walk into the Japanese machine gun nest Martinez had discovered on his one-man night reconnaissance. Martinez had shared the knowledge of the machine gun nest only with Croft, who in turn kept it from Lt. Hearn and the other men.