Shortly after the novel was published, Rand began negotiations with Broadway producer Jerome Mayer to do a theatrical adaptation. Rand wrote the script, but Mayer's financing fell through. Several years later, she was able to interest George Abbott in producing the play. Helen Craig took the lead role as Kira, alongside John Emery as Leo and Dean Jagger as Andrei. It opened under the title The Unconquered at the Biltmore Theatre on February 13, 1940, but closed just five days later after scathing reviews.
Without Rand's permission, We the Living, which had been published in an Italian translation in 1937, was made into a two-part film, Noi Vivi and Addio, Kira in 1942. The films were directed by Goffredo Alessandrini for Scalera Films of Rome, and starred Alida Valli as Kira, Fosco Giachetti as Andrei, and Rossano Brazzi as Leo. Prior to their release, the films were nearly censored by Mussolini's government, but they were permitted because the story itself was set in Soviet Russia and was directly critical of that regime. The films were successful, and the public easily realized that they were as much against fascism as communism. After several weeks, German authorities, who were allied with the Italian government, insisted that the film be pulled from distribution because of its anti-Fascist themes.
Rediscovered in the 1960s through the efforts of Rand's lawyers, Erika Holzer and Henry Mark Holzer, these films were re-edited into a new version with English subtitles composed by Erika Holzer and revision co-producer Duncan Scott. This version, approved by Rand and her estate, was re-released as We the Living in 1986.