The Winning of Barbara Worth in novel form sold around 2.8 million copies. Samuel Goldwyn figured that if he spent around $1 million on a story that had this circulation he was making a good investment.
Originally this story was to have been brought to the screen by Sol Lesser and Mike Rosenberg of Principal Pictures. They had had the release all set with UA. Henry King came along and told Goldwyn he thought this epic of the reclamation of the desert lands was a highly dramatic incident for interpretation on the screen by him, and Goldwyn paid over $125,000 to Lesser and Rosenberg for the story.
Instead of going to Arizona and making his picture, he went into the arid lands of Nevada, and instead of choking off and holding down the cost of production to a minimum, with the idea that the Harold Bell Wright name would carry it, he put every dollar necessary into the production.
Taking a story of this sort and injecting, besides the author’s purport, entertainment, is no child’s task. King has performed a miraculous task. The telling of the story, of course, was the big thing. Putting over the fine points of the yarn by showing a desert sandstorm and then showing the progress of reclamation work and the destruction done by faulty construction was a mountainous job, well executed.
For massiveness of production, this film is incomparable in telling a new angle of the development of the West. Goldwyn paid heavy for the making of the flood stuff. He had to wipe out his towns in Nevada and then had to use miniatures to convey the destructive theme of the story.