In her autobiography, Ethel Merman said that the original lyrics to "Heat Wave": "She started a heat wave by letting her seat wave" was changed for the movie to "She started a heat wave by letting her feet wave"
This was the first time that composer Irving Berlin had worked with Ethel Merman. He told her that he was so impressed with her talent that he would work with her again. He kept that promise and wrote two Broadway shows especially for her: "Annie Get Your Gun" in 1946 and "Call Me Madam" in 1950, the latter of which also starred Merman in the film adaptation: Call Me Madam (1953). Merman also later starred in a film that, like this one, was a cavalcade of Irving Berlin songs, There's No Business Like Show Business (1954).
While most of the movie is fiction, once incident in the film was taken from Irving Berlin's life. During World War I, Berlin was drafted into the army, and produced a Broadway show called "Yip Yip Yaphank," starring U.S. Army servicemen. Berlin appeared in the show, singing the song, "Oh, How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning" (which Jack Haley performs in this film). At the end of each show, as depicted in the film, Berlin would lead the cast of servicemen down the theater aisle, singing "We're On Our Way To France." The show, "Yip Yip Yaphank," and Irving Berlin's follow-up World War II show, "This Is The Army," were both the subject of the film version of This Is the Army (1943), directed by Michael Curtiz. Berlin himself appears in the later film, singing, "Oh, How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning."
After the preview in Los Angeles on 24 May 1938, there were sporadic openings across the United States before the national release on 16 August 1938. Some of these were 5 August in New York City, New York; 11 August in Boston, Massachusetts, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and San Francisco, California; 12 August in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Illinois and Dallas, Texas; and 13 August in Cleveland, Ohio.
Three deleted musical numbers survive in pristine condition: "Some Sunny Day" sung by Don Ameche, "In My Harem" sung by Jack Haley, with Wally Vernon and Chick Chandler and "Marching Along With Time" sung by Ethel Merman; all three numbers are included as special features in the DVD release.
20th Century Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck had this as one of his prestige productions of the year. The directing gig naturally went to his personal favorite choice, Henry King, who was always first choice for the studio's leading productions.