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The working title of this film was The Man Who Rocked the Boat. The opening credits begin with the following written statement: "The picture you are about to see is based on fact, but to insure the safety of people still alive, certain modifications have been made." As depicted in the film, William J. Keating (b. 1915) was an assistant district attorney whose single-minded determination and courage led to the conviction of many racketeers on the New York City waterfront. Keating went into private practice soon after writing his autobiography, The Man Who Rocked the Boat, which Universal purchased in 1956. The following year, the studio bought Richard Rodgers' song "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue," which had been written for the 1936 Broadway play On Your Toes.
Universal borrowed director of photography Fred Jackman from Columbia for this film. Although studio press announced that Hedy Lamarr would make an uncredited appearance in the picture during the scene at the modeling agency of "Dee Pauly," she did not appear in the finished film. According to studio materials, some scenes were shot on location in New York, and others at the Bethlehem Steel Co. shipyards in Long Beach, CA.
Hollywood Reporter news items add the following members to the cast: Myron Cook, George Becwar, Jack LaRue, Morgan Woodward, Julian Upton, William Vaughan, Joe Greenway, Tom Greenway, Eileen Harley, David Sharpe, Boyd Morgan, Len Lesser, Joe Marr and Kay Reid. Their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.