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Universal Pictures financed and distributed the film.
Several actors campaigned for the leading role; ultimately, Eastwood decided that Jolie's face would suit the 1920s period setting.
Believing the positive publicity will negate recent criticism of the department, the LAPD organizes a public reunion. Jones (Donovan), the head of the LAPD's Juvenile Division, insists the boy is Walter and pressures Christine into taking him home "on a trial basis".
Although "Walter" (Devon Conti) claims he is Christine's son, she says he is not. After Christine confronts Jones with physical discrepancies between "Walter" and her son, Jones arranges for a medical doctor to visit her.
A newspaper prints a story that implies Christine is an unfit mother; Briegleb tells Christine it was planted by police to discredit her.
The script was based on real-life events, specifically the 1928 Wineville Chicken Coop Murders in Mira Loma, California.
The film stars Angelina Jolie as a woman reunited with a boy whom she immediately realizes is not her missing son.
Principal photography, which began on October 15, 2007, and concluded a few weeks later in December, took place in Los Angeles and other locations in southern California.
Actors and crew noted that Eastwood's low-key direction resulted in a calm set and short working days.