"Rio Rita" was adapted from a Broadway musical produced by Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.. The original production opened at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York on Feb. 2, 1927 and ran for 494 performances. This was one of the very few instances in which a Ziegfeld musical from the 1920's was adapted to film virtually unchanged.
Costume designer Walter Plunkett worked uncredited on this early talking film. At the time, Hollywood was going through an extremely difficult transition from silent films to talkies. An incident that occurred during the production of this film was later immortalized in Singin' in the Rain (1952). While Plunkett was designing the costumes for that film, screenwriters Adolph Green and Betty Comden drew on some of Plunkett's recollections as the source for gags about the perils of early sound filming. An example of this is the scene in Singin' in the Rain (1952) in which Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) taps Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) on the shoulder with her fan but causes a thunderous noise on the soundtrack by disturbing a microphone hidden in Lockwood's clothing. This was based on a similar incident during the production of "Rio Rita".