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According to the Variety review, many elements of this film are traceable to actual gangster activities of the time. The review notes that Chicago and Cicero, Illinois, are clearly indicated in the film, and that the "Joe Colimo" character recalls a real-life Chicago joint operator who was murdered some years earlier. According to a biography of Irving Thalberg, the producer initially cast Clark Gable in a small role, but as filming progressed new scenes were added to bolster his part. The result was a screen presence three times longer than that called for in the original script. Some modern source plot summaries erroneously claim that the film concludes with Newton killing Scorpio, when in fact Scorpio is imprisoned in the end. According to Ralph Bellamy's autobiography, The Secret Six, his first film, was based on a true story. The autobiography also notes that Clark Gable received his M-G-M contract as a result of his performance in this film. In a filmography in the biographical file for Edgar G. Ulmer at the AMPAS Library, he is listed as production designer for this film.