This is the film with the often shown, camp classic scene of Bette Davis calmly grabbing Miriam Hopkins by the shoulders, vigorously shaking her, throwing her down into a chair, and then calmly saying with a clipped, sarcastic edge: "Sorry". Bette Davis later admitted she immensely enjoyed playing that scene.
This film was the second collaboration of legendary arch-enemies Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins, (Their previous collaboration had been The Old Maid (1939).) The fact that in 1939, Bette Davis had an affair with Miriam Hopkins' then-husband, director Anatole Litvak, only added to their mutual hatred. To their credit, the two actresses had a sense of humor about the situation and allowed publicity photographs to be taken of them facing each other wearing boxing gloves, with director Vincent Sherman between them.
Inside joke: The star of the Broadway play written by Bette Davis' character is a difficult actress named "Julia Broadbank" - a pretty obvious allusion to Tallulah Bankhead, with whom Davis had a famously acrimonious relationship after Davis landed film versions of Dark Victory and The Little Foxes, both of which had been stage triumphs for Bankhead.
According to director Vincent Sherman, the only comment Bette Davis made about her character before filming was that she might use a cigarette holder. Miriam Hopkins' scene in the hotel room was shot first and she deliberately used a long holder to thwart Davis' character idea.
In one scene, an enraged Millie refers to Kit as "Jezebel!" This was the title of Bette Davis' blockbuster hit five years before this movie (Jezebel (1938)). Hopkins herself had starred in Jezebel on the stage before the play was filmed.
The Broadway play opened on December 23, 1940 at the Morosco Theatre and closed 17 May 1941 after 170 performances. The opening night cast included Jane Cowl as Kit, Peggy Wood as Millie and Kent Smith as Rudd Kendall. Warner Bros. purchased the rights to the play for $75,000.
This film has been under common ownership with its 1981 remake ever since the remake was released. The year the remake was released, its distributor, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, acquired United Artists, which had owned the rights to the 1943 version since its 1958 purchase of Associated Artists Productions which had owned the pre-1950 Warner Bros. library. Turner Entertainment, a subsidiary of Turner Broadcasting System, bought the pre-1986 MGM library and the pre-1950 WB library from MGM/UA in 1986. 10 years later, WB regained its pre-1950 library, plus the pre-1986 MGM films, when its parent Time Warner purchased Turner, which continues to hold the copyrights to both film versions of the play, with Warner Bros. handling distribution.
At the beginning of the "Wonder Woman" episode "Wonder Woman In Hollywood" from 1977, a few vintage Warner Bros clips of Hollywood are shown. One of these shows a cinema from the main street with marquees for "Old Acquaintance".