Jack Lemmon disclosed in a TV interview interview that during his straitjacket scene, wherein his character rather violently suffers the DTs, he'd gotten so into it that the crew had to shake him out of his hysterics after the cameras had stopped rolling.
The film's title comes from the poem "Vitae Summa Brevis" by Ernest Dowson: "They are not long, the days of wine and roses: / Out of a misty dream / Our path emerges for a while, then closes / Within a dream." Dowson also wrote the poem from which the title Gone with the Wind (1939) came.
The cast and crew were very concerned that the bleak ending would be changed. Director Blake Edwards recalled for Entertainment Weekly magazine that studio head Jack L. Warner wanted a lighter ending, but he came into a screening with a very attractive date who blasted the decision. Warner reluctantly gave in. In addition, Jack Lemmon purposely flew to Paris after filming had wrapped so he would be "unavailable" for re-shoots.
The story was first performed live on an episode of Playhouse 90 (1956) in 1958. Writer J.P. Miller conceived the original play as a love story between two drunks. The concept of alcoholic domesticity had never been executed commercially before. The recorded play, not in public domain, currently exists on videotape at CBS Television City in Hollywood.
Learning that he had not been chosen to direct this movie adaptation when he had directed the acclaimed live TV drama on which this film was based, John Frankenheimer asked why and was told, "John, they say you're not a comedy director."