Was reportedly one of Alfred Hitchcock's most unhappy directing jobs. He felt caught between Charles Laughton and Laughton's business partners. Later, he said that he did not so much direct the film as referee it.
In a 1972 interview with Pia Lindström, Alfred Hitchcock said that it took one full morning to get one closeup of Charles Laughton. He also said that "he was a nice man. A charming man. He really was. But oh! He suffered so much, because he felt he couldn't get it out. And we were one whole morning on the one closeup until he got up. And he was crying in the corner. And I went over and patted him on the shoulder".
The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
In the original script written by Sidney Gilliat and Joan Harrison, the villain was a hypocritical preacher. However, the villain was changed to a squire because unsympathetic portrayals of the clergy were forbidden by the Production Code in Hollywood. Charles Laughton was originally cast as the uncle, but he cast himself in the role of villain. Since Laughton was the co-producer and the star of this film, he demanded that Hitchcock give his character, Squire Pengallon, greater screen time. This forced Hitchcock to reveal that Pengallon was a villain in league with the smugglers earlier in the film than he had planned. Laughton's acting was a problem as well for Hitchcock. Laughton played the Squire as having a mincing walk, to the beat of a German waltz which he played in his head, while Hitchcock thought it was out of character.