When Tully Marshall dribbled tobacco juice on Gloria Swanson's hand during the wedding sequence and explained that director Erich von Stroheim ordered him to do it, it was the final straw. She called producer Joseph P. Kennedy and demanded that von Stroheim be fired. He was, effectively shutting down the production.
A clip from the film appears in Sunset Blvd. (1950), where Norma Desmond (played by Gloria Swanson), a silent movie star who is planning a comeback, watches one of her former films. Erich von Stroheim plays Max Von Mayerling, Desmond's butler, who serves as projectionist for the film clip. It is later revealed that Max was the silent movie director who discovered Norma Desmond. Director Billy Wilder recalled that it was von Stroheim's idea to use the clip from _Queen Kelly_ (1932) in Sunset Blvd. (1950), as a way of "art imitating life."
Although Boston banker and broker Joseph Kennedy, father of the future president, and then lover of Gloria Swanson, was very active in re-organizing and managing Hollywood film studios in financial trouble, this is one of the only films that he personally produced. It was also to be one of his last, as he and his backers lost a fortune when he was forced to fire von Stroheim, and his mistress refused to return for reshoots and a new story. Shortly after, Kennedy ended his role in Gloria Productions, then sold his interests in Pathe pictures, and ended his involvement in the film business. In the next decade, he began a political career--first as a backer of FDR who appointed him head of the Security Exchange Commission, and then ambassador to the Court of St. James. Irish Kennedy's anti-English feelings so embarrassed Churchill that he forced FDR to recall Kennedy, thus ending his political ambitions. Joseph spent the rest of his life managing his son's ascent.
After shooting only one-third of the picture (four hours), director Erich von Stroheim was fired by producer-star Gloria Swanson. Two years later, additional footage was shot to complete the picture. Since von Stroheim owned part of the property, he refused to grant releasing rights in the U.S. and elsewhere for this bastardized version. It was not exhibited in the U.S. until after Sunset Blvd. (1950), when it received minor theatrical release and a showing on television in 1966.
In 1931, Gloria Swanson hired Gregg Toland to shoot some additional scenes for release in Europe in 1932. These consisted of Prince Wolfram seeing Kelly's drowned body and committing suicide himself. That scene (in the Force Video alternate version) is not in the 1985 Kino restored version, which continues on to African scenes.
Gordon Pollock was replaced with Paul Ivano after the first day of shooting after some costume tests photographed by Ivano proved to be much more satisfactory than the scenes (from the Kambach Road sequence) that Pollock had taken.
The uniforms worn throughout the Kronburg scenes are all clearly adapted from real Prussian uniforms worn by members of the German army through about 1914. The palace guards all wear the uniform of the Prussian Palace Guard Company. Prince Wolfram and his regiment all wear the helmets and cuirasses (breastplates) warn by the Prussian Garde du Corps (c. 1890s) when they are parading on the Kambach Road. After the banquet scene, Wolfram's adjutant is seen wearing the ceremonial version of the Garde du Corps uniform, which features the 'supraweste' (embroidered red vest) and butcher boots. Director Erich von Stroheim had made a name for himself as a military advisor early in his career, so he was very familiar with the details of such uniforms.
Producer Walter Futter purchased the negative for the film in 1939 for $10,000. Apparently he wanted to make use of footage from the European sequences to cheaply make a spy thriller set in a fictitious Balkan country. No such film was apparently ever made.
Erich von Stroheim reportedly spent over 24 hours shooting the scene in which Queen Regina, played by Seena Owen, is introduced in her boudoir. Owen had to be nude, covering her chest with a white cat. After a few takes the cat began to scratch her and had to be fitted with mittens.
Erich von Stroheim recycled many plot elements from the (mostly not-filmed) African scenes from this film into a script he wrote in 1933 called 'Poto-Poto'. The script was submitted to studios for consideration but was never purchased or filmed.
Erich von Stroheim: [prostitution] Prince Wolfram and his adjutant arrive at the palace in the opening scenes accompanied by a group of prostitutes. Kelly is also later sent to live in a brothel in Africa, which she takes over.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
The scene on the Kambach road was originally shot as scripted, with Kelly loosing her pantaloons and Wolfram picking them up with his sword, pretending to pocket them, and then returning them to her before riding off. After star Gloria Swanson finished her portion of the scene, Erich von Stroheim reshot the scene with Walter Byron giving the bloomers a sniff. This change in the sequence infuriated Swanson, who found it distasteful and 'unthinkable' for inclusion in a film.