John Wayne did not like Cecil B. DeMille. He felt the director had passed him over for the role of Wild Bill Hickok in The Plainsman (1936), which Wayne had felt certain would make him a star.
Although John Wayne was pleased to have been cast in such an important movie, he was unhappy with his part and once complained he was only there to make Ray Milland look like a "real man".
Cecil B. DeMille had wanted Errol Flynn to play Stephen Tolliver, but Jack L. Warner refused to loan him out.
During the filming of a fight scene with John Wayne, an accident cost actor Victor Kilian the use of one eye.
The giant rubber squid used in the underwater battle was donated by the studio to the war effort in 1942. The Japanese had conquered British Malaya and French Indochina, then the sources of most of the world's rubber.
The shots of the squid wrapping its tentacles around the actors was done by wrapping the actors in the tentacles, then unwrapping them and showing the film in reverse.
For the 1954 theatrical re-release, John Wayne was given top billing in the posters because of his increased star status, and Susan Hayward, who had since 1942 become a major star instead of a supporting player, was misleadingly billed second. Formerly top-billed Ray Milland got third billing in the new posters, whilst leading lady Paulette Goddard was demoted to fourth billing.
The world premiere was held on 18 March 1942 at the newly renovated El Capitan Theater on Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles, California, USA. In conjunction with the premiere was a celebration of Paramount's 30th year in business and Cecil B. DeMille's 30th year in films. It was attended by about 3,000 people with the proceeds going to the Navy Relief Fund.
A song, "Reap the Wild Wind" (1942), music by Lew Pollack and lyrics by Ned Washington, was published to promote the film.
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on March 8, 1943 with Paulette Goddard and Ray Milland reprising their film roles.
The voice of the character "The Lamb", played by former wrestler William 'Wee Willie' Davis, was dubbed by Paramount contract player Akim Tamiroff, who had previously acted for Cecil B. DeMille in North West Mounted Police (1940).
This was the last film in which Hedda Hopper appeared as a character other than herself.
John Wayne sustained an ear injury during this movie that prevented him from serving in the military during WWII.
One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929-49, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Its earliest documented telecast took place in Asheville Wednesday 1 April 1959 on WLOS (Channel 13), followed by St. Louis 4 April 1959 on KMOX (Channel 4), by Milwaukee 18 July 1959 on WITI (Channel 6), by Phoenix 6 September 1959 on KVAR (Channel 12), by both Chicago and Seattle 17 October 1959 on WBBM (Channel 2) and KIRO (Channel 7), by Indianapolis 12 November 1959 on WFBM (Channel 6), by Grand Rapids 14 November 1959 on WOOD (Channel 8), by Minneapolis 27 November 1959 on WTCN (Channel 11), by Detroit 4 December 1959 on WJBK (Channel 2), and by San Francisco, in 2 parts, 4-5 December 1959 on KPIX (Channel 5). At this time, color broadcasting was in its infancy, limited to only a small number of high rated programs, primarily on NBC and NBC affiliated stations, so these film showings, with the exception of WFBM in Indianapolis, which was an NBC affiliate, and aired it in color on their Saturday Night Movie Spectacular, were all still in B&W. Viewers were not offered the opportunity to see these films in their original Technicolor until several years later. It was released on DVD 12 June 2007 as one of five titles in Universal's John Wayne Screen Legend Collection and has since enjoyed occasional cable TV presentations on Turner Classic Movies.
According to Penny Stallings in her book "Flesh and Fantasy", studio hairdressers and their primitive electric hair rollers were responsible for Ray Milland's subsequent baldness.
This was John Wayne's biggest ticket seller as lead actor, grossing in 2010 terms roughly $240 million in the US alone.
Reap the Wild Wind received two honors in The Film Daily's 1942 "Filmdom's Famous Five," a national poll of newspaper, magazine, syndicate, news service, and radio critics. Cecil B. DeMille was named one of the year's Top Five Directors (third place), while Victor Milner was one of the Top Five Cameramen (also third place).