Terry, better known as Toto from The Wizard of Oz (1939), appears in this film as the dog that Spencer Tracy takes in from the rain at the beginning of the movie, becoming his traveling companion into the netherworld of small-town America.
This was Fritz Lang's first film in Hollywood and he wasn't accustomed to labor laws that require meal breaks. Shortly after filming began, Lang ate a quick lunch between set-ups and resumed filming. Some of the crew members wondering about their lunch break asked Spencer Tracy, who in turn pointed out to Lang that it was "1:30 pm and the crew had yet to take their break". Lang replied that it was his set and that "I will call lunch when I think it should be called". Tracy then smeared his make-up with his hand, knowing that it would take at least ninety minutes to fix it, yelled "Lunch!" and promptly walked off the set with the crew.
The script was based upon the 1933 kidnapping and murder of Brooke Hart, the son of the owner of Hart's Department Store in San Jose, California. The two kidnapping suspects were pulled from jail by a group of vigilantes, who dragged them across the street to St. James Park and lynched both of them.
Additional information in the Fritz Lang papers indicates that Walter Brennan, who played "Bugs" Meyers, had an extended illness that necessitated a transfer of some of his "courtroom business" to George Chandler, who played Milton Johnson.
Originally the movie ended with a close-up of Sylvia Sidney's tearful face; MGM forced Fritz Lang, much to the director's dismay, to film an ending in which Spencer Tracy and Sidney kiss in the courtroom.
This film's initial telecast took place in Philadelphia Thursday 7 March 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6); it was first aired in Los Angeles 13 April 1958 on KTTV (Channel 11), in New York City 8 June 1958 on WCBS (Channel 2), and in San Francisco 8 December 1958 on KGO (Channel 7).