"Academy Award Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on May 4, 1946 with Claire Trevor reprising her film role.
"Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on January 9, 1949 with John Wayne and Claire Trevor reprising their film roles.
John Ford gave John Wayne the script, asking him for any suggestions as to who could play the Ringo Kid. Wayne suggested Lloyd Nolan, not realizing that Ford was baiting him with the part. Once filming began, however, Ford was merciless to Wayne, constantly undermining him. This psychological tactic was designed to make Wayne start feeling some real emotions, and not to be intimidated by acting alongside the likes of such seasoned professionals as Thomas Mitchell.
John Ford loved the Monument Valley location so much that the actual stagecoach journey traverses the valley three times.
John Ford originally wanted Ward Bond to play Buck the stage driver but gave the role to Andy Devine when he found that Bond couldn't drive a "six-up" stagecoach and there wasn't time to teach him.
John Ford's first sound Western, and his first in that genre in 13 years. Westerns had fallen out favor with the coming of sound, as it was tricky to record on location.
David O. Selznick was interested in making the film, but only if he could have Gary Cooper as the Ringo Kid and Marlene Dietrich as Dallas.
John Wayne's 80th film.
A device known as a "Running W" was used on the Indians' horses during the sequence where they are chasing the stagecoach. Strong, thin wires are fixed to a metal post, then the other end of the wires are attached to an iron clamp that encircles the legs of a horse, and the post is anchored into the ground. The horse is then ridden at full gallop, and when the wire's maximum length is reached - just when the rider is "shot" - the animal's legs are jerked out from underneath it, causing it to tumble violently and throw the "shot" rider off. The trouble was that the rider knew when the horse was going to fall but the horse didn't, resulting in many horses either being killed outright or having to be destroyed because of broken limbs incurred during the falls. The use of the "Running W" was eventually discontinued after many complaints from both inside and outside the film industry.
Although Louis Gruenberg receives screen credit for the musical score, his contribution was not used and his name was omitted for the Academy Award nomination.
Asked why, in the climactic chase scene, the Indians didn't simply shoot the horses to stop the stagecoach, director John Ford replied, "Because that would have been the end of the movie."
Doctor Boone's misquote, 'Is this the face that wrecked a thousand ships/ and burned the towerless tops of Ilium?', is from 'The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus' by Christopher Marlowe, Scene xiv.
Film debut of Mickey Simpson.
Hosteen Tso, a local shaman, promised John Ford the exact kind of cloud formations he wanted. They duly appeared.
In 1939 Claire Trevor was the film's biggest star, and thus commanded the highest salary.
In 1939 there was no paved road through Monument Valley, hence the reason why it hadn't been used as a movie location before (it wasn't paved until the 1950s). Harry Goulding, who ran a trading post there, had heard that John Ford was planning a big-budget Western so he traveled to Hollywood, armed with over 100 photographs, and threatened to camp out on Ford's doorstep until the director saw him. Ford saw him almost immediately and was instantly sold on the location, particularly when he realized that its remoteness would free him from studio interference.
It's believed by many that the famous line "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do," widely attributed to a John Wayne Western character, is spoken by Wayne in this film, however, it isn't. His character, The Ringo Kid, instead says "There are some things a man just can't run away from," when asked why he intends to stay and avenge his family's murders rather than try to escape to Mexico.
Local Navajo Indians played the Apaches. The film's production was a huge economic boost to the local impoverished population, giving jobs to hundreds of locals as extras and handymen.