Major Thomas Coulson's 1930 book, "Mata Hari: Courtesan and Spy", piqued interest in turning it into a movie, but an MGM executive said that no one book was the basis of their movie. Mata hari translates to "eye of the day" in Indonesian (and Malay), and is the most common word for "sun" in those languages. Censors of many cities required cuts in the movie, which was typical of many pre-code films. When MGM applied to the Hays Office for a certificate in 1936 for re-release, it was refused. However, a certificate was issued in 1939, when the movie was re-released.