It was during the making of this film, when she saw how camels, goats and other "animal extras" in a marketplace scene were being treated, that Doris Day began her lifelong commitment to preventing animal abuse. She was so appalled at the conditions the animals were in that she refused to work unless they were properly fed and cared for. The production company actually had to set up "feeding stations" for the various goats, sheep, camels, etc.--and feed them every day--before Day would agree to go back to work.
Throughout the filming, Doris Day became increasingly concerned that Alfred Hitchcock paid more attention to camera setups, lighting and technical matters than he did to her performance. Convinced that he was displeased with her work, she finally confronted him. His reply was, "My dear Miss Day, if you weren't giving me what I wanted, *then* I would have to direct you!"
At first Doris Day refused to record "Que Sera, Sera" as a popular song release, dismissing it as "a forgettable children's song." It not only went on to win an Academy Award but also became the biggest hit of her recording career and her signature song (so much for being "forgettable"). She would go on to sing the same song in two more movies, Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960) and The Glass Bottom Boat (1966), and it was used as the theme song for all 124 episodes of her TV series, The Doris Day Show (1968).
The film was unavailable for decades because its rights (together with four other pictures of the same period) were bought back by Alfred Hitchcock and left as part of his legacy to his daughter. They've been known for long as the infamous "Five lost Hitchcocks" amongst film buffs, and were re-released in theatres around 1984 after a 30-year absence. The others are Rear Window (1954), Rope (1948), The Trouble with Harry (1955), and Vertigo (1958).
Many of the Moroccan extras had been mistakenly informed that they would only be paid if they were actually visible in the film. This led to a lot of pushing and shoving to get close to the camera until the crew explained to them that they would be paid no matter what.
When Doris Day traveled to London to film some of the location scenes for this film, she was so popular with the British that when she arrived at her hotel, mobs of fans who had gotten word that she would be staying there had gathered. Pandemonium erupted when they saw her, and she needed a police escort to get in. Fans continued to surround the hotel, camping out, shouting her name, asking for autographs and hoping for a chance to see her. The hotel management finally had to ask her to leave.
The plot calls for a man (Daniel Gélin in the role of Louis Bernard) to be discovered as "not Moroccan" because he was wearing black makeup. The makeup artists couldn't find a black substance that would come off easily, and so they painted the fingers of the other man (James Stewart) white, so that he would leave pale streaks on the other man's skin (according to Patricia Hitchcock, this idea was suggested by Daniel Gélin).
Alfred Hitchcock told François Truffaut that his 1934 version was "the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional". Nevertheless, Hitchcock preferred the earlier version, largely because it wasn't so polished.
The movie was originally to be produced by Paramount Pictures and Patron, a company to be jointly owned by James Stewart, Doris Day and Alfred Hitchcock. When the film finally went before the cameras, the production company was Filwite Productions, Inc., co-owned by Hitchcock and Stewart. The reason Day was not included in the final production deal has not been publicly disclosed. However, it may have had something to do with Day's husband and manager at the time, Martin Melcher, a man absolutely despised and considered shady by many in Hollywood.
In a 1994 interview available on the liner notes of a Rhino compilation of Oscar-winning songs, songwriter Jay Livingston says that he came across the phrase "Que Sera Sera" in the movie The Barefoot Contessa (1954), when Rossano Brazzi shows Ava Gardner his house, and she sees the inscription "Que Sera Sera" on the gate. He tells her that is the family motto, and it means "Whatever will be, will be".
Doris Day had a fear of flying that stemmed from tours with Bob Hope in the 1940s that resulted in some close calls in impenetrable winter weather. She almost turned down her role in this film because it required travel to London and Marrakesh. Her husband and manager, Martin Melcher talked her into accepting it.
John Michael Hayes wrote the screenplay based on a treatment written by Angus MacPhail. However, Hayes was infuriated when Alfred Hitchcock submitted both Hayes' and MacPhail's names to receive credit for the screenplay. Hayes demanded the credit be sent for arbitration to the Writers Guild of America, which judged Hayes the sole author. Though he was successful in his bid for credit, it caused a never-healed rift between Hitchcock and Hayes.
In 1965 Alfred Hitchcock and James Stewart filed a $4,000,000 lawsuit against Paramount Pictures, arguing that their eight-year agreement with the studio had ended and that Paramount had breached its copyright by televising the film. The director and actor also requested that Paramount return the film's original negative to them. The final disposition of this suit has not been made public, but the film remained unavailable for commercial exhibition for many years.
The crucial concert piece for the Albert Hall sequence was the same piece composed by Arthur Benjamin specifically for the original 1934 version of the film. Alfred Hitchcock offered Bernard Herrmann the opportunity to compose a new work for the scene, but Herrmann chose not to, citing an appreciation of the original cantata.
Initially, there was a great deal of talking at The Royal Albert Hall. According to The New York Times, the original script called for James Stewart to deliver a page-long speech about why they had to stop the concert. But this didn't go over well with Alfred Hitchcock. "You're talking so much, I'm unable to enjoy the London Symphony," Hitchcock complained to Stewart. "Just wave your arms a lot and run up the stairs." This was apparently normal behavior for Hitchcock, who was "suspicious of the spoken word."
Conductor Bernard Herrmann plays himself on-screen. He's listed as such in the beginning credits, and his name can be seen on the poster play bill when Doris Day exits the taxi at Albert Hall. All the names on the poster play bill are those of the performers of the "Cantata Storm Clouds" : the London Symphony Orchestra, Barbara Howitt (mezzo-soprano) and the Covent Garden Opera Chorus.
Alfred Hitchcock first considered an American remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) in 1941, but only brought back the idea in 1956, to make a film that would fulfill a contractual demand from Paramount Pictures. The studio agreed it was a picture that could be well-adapted to the new decade.
The Albert Hall sequence drew some inspiration from H. M. Bateman's comic "The One-Note Man", which followed the daily life of a musician who only plays one note in a symphony, similar to the cymbal player in the film.
Bernard Herrmann was given the option of composing a new cantata to be performed during the film's climax. However, he found Arthur Benjamin's cantata Storm Clouds from the original 1934 film to be so well suited to the film that he declined, although he did expand the orchestration, and insert several repeats to make the sequence longer. Herrmann can be seen conducting the London Symphony Orchestra and singers during the Royal Albert Hall scenes.
On the poster playbill you can see the date of the Albert Hall concert: Monday, 6 June, at 8. So the action takes place in 1955--the year the film was shot--when June 6th was a Monday (1949 had the same calendar but is not likely). The movie is supposed to begin on Saturday, June 4, and finish on Monday, June 6, 1955.
A Vicary Street sign can be seen though the telephone box when Jo rings the police. Vicary Street was in Blenheim Gardens running off Brandon Road but no longer exists, having been demolished during the construction of the Blenheim Gardens Estate. It was about three blocks away from St. Saviour's Church Hall (Ambrose Chapel).
The film finished production thirty-seven days behind schedule, including six shutdown days. Paramount internal memos show that the film went well over its original budget, costing $1,834,000, exclusive of the stars' and director's salaries.
When Ben and Jo McKenna arrive in London searching for their son, they're greeted at the hotel by some of Jo's old theater friends. The lone man in the group is Val Parnell, which is coincidentally the name of an actual theater patron and manager.
Alfred Hitchcock: in the Moroccan marketplace in a crowd watching the elevated acrobats with his BACK to the camera, on the extreme left, immediately before the murder. Be *alert* and look QUICKLY (and if possible, have "pause" and "rewind" controls available), as this cameo is very easy to miss - even after repeated viewings - because the eye is naturally drawn to the acrobats.