One thing slowing the film down was Preston Sturges's problems with Mary Astor. Although she was an accomplished screen actress, the Sturges brand of comedy did not come naturally to her. She would later write, "It was not my thing. I couldn't talk in a high fluty voice and run my words together as he thought high society women did, or at least mad high society women who'd had six husbands and six million dollars."
Preston Sturges's perfectionism slowed down production. He refused to move on to close-ups until he had a perfect master shot, and he would stop and do a new take if an actor changed a word of the script. William Demarest, who appeared in eight Sturges films, would later say, "He had a great memory. If you changed anything, he'd say, 'Wait a minute,' and, goddamn, he was right."
Preston Sturges came up with the character of J.D. Hackensacker III by accident. He wanted to see My Life with Caroline (1941), but arrived at the theatre an hour early. With nothing better to do, he caught the tail end of the second feature, the low-budget musical Time Out for Rhythm (1941). Radio crooner Rudy Vallee was the male lead and though he was primarily straight man for all the film's jokes, every time he opened his mouth the audience roared. Sturges immediately created the role with Vallee in mind. Studio management fought casting the radio star, since his early pictures had been flops, but Sturges persisted. Even with the failed films in his past, Vallee still commanded a high fee because of his success on the radio.
Despite repeated alterations made to the script, the PCA continued to protest the "light treatment of marriage and divorce" in the story, and the similarity between the character "John D. Hackensacker III" and American industrialist John D. Rockefeller. The filmmakers complied with some of the concerns of the PCA by altering specific lines which seemed too suggestive and by reducing "Princess Maud's" unsuccessful marriages from eight to three, plus two annulments.
With parts written to their specific talents, most of the actors required little direction. The result was a relaxed set where the cast felt comfortable trying whatever the script demanded. When Joel McCrea had to fall down a flight of stairs at the end of an argument, Preston Sturges even took the fall for him first, just to show him it was safe.
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. A popular favorite among local audiences, it was first telecast in Chicago 6 April 1959 on WBBM (Channel 2), in Asheville NC 3 November 1959 on WLOS (Channel 13), in Milwaukee 9 November 1959 on WITI (Channel 6), in Seattle 28 November 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7), in San Francisco 19 February 1960 on KPIX (Channel 5), in Detroit 1 March 1960 on WJBK (Channel 2), in Lowell MA (serving Boston) 3 March 1960 on WBZ (Channel 4), in Hartford, CT 10 March 1960 on WTIC, and in Salt Lake City 8 April 1960 on KUTV (Channel 2). It was first released on DVD 1 February 2005 by Universal as a single and again 21 November 2006 as one of seven titles in Universal's Preston Sturges: The Filmmaker Collection. Since that time, it's also enjoyed frequent airings on Turner Classic Movies.
Hackensacker's yacht is 'The Erl King'. This is a play on words and most people read it as 'The Earl King' and think it only refers to the German 'Erl König' (the German word for king). However it is meant to be pronounced 'The Oil King,' a pun on the fact that John D. Hackensacker is based on John D. Rockefeller, the president of Standard Oil, who was known as "the oil king."