The novel on which this film is based was written by its author, poet Kenneth Fearing, as revenge on publisher Henry Luce and his "Time" magazine, where Fearing was obliged to work (for financial reasons) for many years. The fearsome Earl Janoth is often regarded as a libelous parody of Luce, although the book was given a rave review in "Time" when it was first published, as was the film.
When producer Richard Maibaum first came on the set, director John Farrow who liked to intimidate people who worked with him, kept him at a distance by using a walking stick. Maibaum turned around, went to the props department and returned with a baseball bat. As if a spell were broken, the situation immediately improved and Maibaum and Farrow would go on to have an excellent working relationship.
When George Stroud asks the operator to call Pauline York's apartment, the number he asks for begins with BUtterfield8. This was a telephone exchange in a ritzy part of upper Manhattan. Just as Pauline met her demise in this part of town, so did Elizabeth Taylor's character twelve years later in her academy award winning role of Gloria, a high-priced call girl in 1960's BUtterfield8.
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. An immediate favorite among local television audiences, its initial telecast took place in St. Louis Wednesday 7 January 1959 on KMOX (Channel 4), and it soon spread across the country, grabbing key prime time movie slots in Los Angeles Saturday 31 January 1959 on KNXT (Channel 2), in Minneapolis 5 February 1959 on WTCN (Channel 11), in Philadelphia 7 February 1959 on WCAU (Channel 10), in Chicago 5 March 1959 on WBBM (Channel 2), in Milwaukee 18 April 1959 on WITI (Channel 6), in Phoenix 29 May 1959 on KVAR (Channel 12), in San Francisco 6 August 1959 on KPIX (Channel 5), in Seattle 15 August 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7), in Detroit 21 October 1959 on WJBK (Channel 2), in Toledo 24 October 1959 on WTOL (Channel 11), in both Pittsburgh and Asheville 9 November 1959 on KDKA (Channel 2) and WLOS (Channel 13), in Grand Rapids 11 November 1959 on WOOD (Channel 8), in Omaha 26 November 1959 on KETV (Channel 7), and in Johnstown 20 December on WJAC (Channel 6); but New York television viewers did not get their first look at it until 12 September 1960 on WCBS (Channel 2). It was released on DVD 6 July 2004 as part of the Universal Noir Collection, and since that time has received frequent airings on cable TV on Turner Classic Movies.