There are over 130 roles in this movie, all played by women. Phyllis Povah, Marjorie Main, Mary Cecil and Marjorie Wood originated their roles in the play, which opened on 7 September 1937 and had 666 performances at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York. No doubles were used in the fight sequence where Rosalind Russell bites Paulette Goddard. Despite the permanent scar resulting from the bite, the actresses remained friends.
In addition to its all-female cast, every animal that was used in the film (the many dogs and horses) was female as well. In addition, none of the works of art seen in the backgrounds were representative of the male form.
When Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford were called to shoot publicity stills, neither actress would enter the studio first. Instead, they remained in their limousines and circled the parking lot until director George Cukor summoned them and they instantly behaved like best friends.
Sydney's, the beauty salon where the initial action takes place, was named after Sydney Guilaroff, the chief hairstylist at MGM from 1934 to the late 1970s. He was brought to MGM from New York at the request of Joan Crawford.
After Sylvia bites Mirium on the leg, Mirium's line, "Yeah, got to be careful of hydrophobia" is her veiled way of calling Sylvia a bitch. The actual definition of hydrophobia is not a fear of water but a fear of rabies contracted by a dog, and the technical term for a female dog is "bitch." And near the end a second allusion to the word bitch is used when Crystal says, "There's a name for you ladies, but it isn't used in high society... outside a kennel."
The beauty salon and spa featured in the film's opening sequence was based on cosmetics mogul Elizabeth Arden's parlor in New York City. At the premiere of the film, Arden scoffed that the film's salon was an exact copy of hers.
In the dressing room after the fashion show, Crystal Allen says to Mary Haines, "... because he's the kind that lets that old-fashioned sentiment put the Indian sign on him, and that's all." "The Indian sign" was a popular phrase of the time. It meant to control or dominate. It comes from a technique used by Native Americans to train horses.
The lines Mary reads alone in bed are from "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran: "Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears," but MGM omitted the reference to "nakedness" to avoid offending the censors.
Though many people view Joan Crawford as the "bad girl" of the movie, Clare Boothe Luce, who wrote (as Clare Boothe) the play that the film was based on, sympathized most with Crystal Allen, Crawford's character.