Leo McCarey was making The Milky Way (1936) with Harold Lloyd when he accidentally drank some contaminated milk and became so ill that he nearly died. This brush with mortality - and the recent death of his own father - made him want to make the film. McCarey in fact was so ill that he was unable to attend the funeral of his beloved father.
French director Bertrand Tavernier's then wife, Colo Tavernier, was responsible for writing the French subtitles for its foreign release. She recalled that she found it extremely difficult to type up these subtitles as her eyes were full of tears.
When he moved to Columbia, Leo McCarey found himself often at loggerheads with its notoriously difficult head, Harry Cohn. Whenever he went over budget or fell behind schedule on The Awful Truth (1937), Cohn would remind him of the commercial failure of Make Way for Tomorrow (1937). When The Awful Truth (1937) was released to great acclaim and excellent box office, McCarey led Cohn to believe that he would renew his contract with Columbia. But the day before they had agreed to sign, McCarey took out an ad in Variety announcing that he had just signed with RKO, the studio where he made two of his biggest hits, Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary's (1945).