On May 12, 1956, during the shooting of this film, Montgomery Clift had a bad car accident on his way back home from a party at the house of Elizabeth Taylor. His friend Kevin McCarthy witnessed the accident from his car, drove back and informed Taylor and her then husband Michael Wilding, who immediately drove to the location together with Rock Hudson. Taylor entered the car through the back door, crawled to the front seat and removed the two front teeth from Clift's throat that threatened to choke him. Hudson finally managed to pull him out of the wreck and together they protected him from being photographed until the ambulance arrived. This was necessary because soon after the emergency call had come in to the local police station, reporters were already on their way and arrived at the scene when Clift was still in the car. The accident was well publicized. After nine weeks of recovery Clift returned to the movie set and finished the film, but with considerable difficulties. His dashing looks, though, were gone forever. The left side of his face was more or less immobile.
At the time of its release, it held the (dubious) honor of being the most expensive film ever made.
Of the many films produced in the very wide aspect-ratio of (2.55:1) from 1953 to 1957, this was the last film released at that largest aspect-ratio; after this, films were reduced to merely (2.35:1).
The town of Freehaven of the mythical Raintree County was created in 1956 on MGM's vast Backlot #3 at Jefferson and Overland Boulevards in Culver City, California, by re-designing a portion of an old western set and adding some new buildings such as the Freehaven Town Hall and its clock tower. In 1971, MGM's Lot #3 was demolished to make way for a new apartment and condominium complex which became known as "Raintree Estates," named for this motion picture. Several Chinese Golden Raintrees were planted around the new residential property and many of the complex's streets and buildings were named for various MGM productions.
This film was the first to be photographed in the MGM Camera 65 process; the second was Ben-Hur (1959). Later, the process was renamed Ultra Panavision 70. It involved using a 65mm negative with the addition of lenses that applied a 1.25 X anamorphic squeeze. When projected, the aspect ratio would be 2.21:1 X 1.25 = 2.76:1. However, around 1957 theaters were still showing Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), which forced MGM to release this film only on 35mm anamorphic prints, with an aspect ratio of 2.55:1. MGM used the older CinemaScope format because it allowed for the inclusion of four-track magnetic audio, in contrast to the mono-only audio offered by 2.35:1 optical soundtrack prints.
The all-too-brief scenes which Clift filmed for "Raintree County" just before his accident represent the only color footage in films available of him before he was disfigured. All of his previous movies had been shot in black and white.