While Marlon Brando had always greatly admired Charles Chaplin's work and looked upon him as "probably the most talented man the [movie] medium has ever produced," the two superstars did not get along during the shooting of this movie. In his autobiography, Brando described Chaplin as "probably the most sadistic man I'd ever met." Chaplin, on his side, said that working with Brando simply was "impossible."
At the premiere in 1967 in London, the film that had been shown just previously had been projected using a special spherical lens. The projectionist had forgotten to take it off for this film. The result was a distorted spherical image. Many critics instantly blamed it on Charles Chaplin's "tired" directing techniques. This was obviously not the case, but the film did badly at the box office and Chaplin himself went into deep depression.
During filming in 1966 at England's Pinewood Studios, the 77-year-old Charles Chaplin was walking around outside discussing ideas when his foot got caught in a grate and he broke his ankle. It was the first serious injury he ever sustained.
This was Charles Chaplin's final film, although in his early-1970s memoir, "My Life in Pictures," he mentioned plans to film a movie entitled "The Freak," starring his daughter, Victoria Chaplin. The film was ultimately never made, but costume test photos exist.
In his autobiography, Marlon Brando called the film "a disaster" and described Charles Chaplin as "a fearsomely cruel man...He was an egotistical tyrant and a penny pincher." According to Brando, Chaplin frequently berated his son Sydney Chaplin and when Brando arrived onset fifteen minutes late, Chaplin gave him a dressing down in front of the cast and crew. An embarrassed Brando demanded, and received, an apology.
Charles Chaplin wanted Al Jolson to record the theme song "This Is My Song," and only accepted that Jolson died in 1950 when shown a picture of his grave. The song, with Chaplin's old-fashioned lyrics, proved difficult to record, with Petula Clark very reluctant, and Harry Secombe dissolving into giggles when he tried to sing the words.
Petula Clark had a major hit with her recording of "This is My Song," an adaptation of a piece of music Charles Chaplin wrote for this film. Chaplin reportedly did not care for Clark's version, though it ultimately turned out to be the only successful aspect of the film, reaching #1 on the British charts. Just months later, Harry Secombe took the song to #2 in Britain.
Charles Chaplin's final acting appearance is in a cameo as an old steward. Since nearly all of the characters he portrayed in films prior to the 1940s were not identified by name, it is appropriate that his final character also be nameless.
Although some literary sources claim the film was shot in the anamorphic CinemaScope process with the aspect ratio of 2,35:1, the lack of a CinemaScope logo or credit in titles and promotional material, such as posters and the total lack of anamorphic compression artifacts in the print, indicate that the film was shot in spherical 1,85:1 hard matte format. Widescreen DVDs of the film have also been presented in 1,85:1 aspect ratio.
The film was shortened by approximately fifteen minutes since its premiere. In an interview, Charles Chaplin said he felt the shortened version, which is the version currently available on home video and DVD, almost did not feel like his film and that he preferred the longer one.
This was Tippi Hedren's first feature film after her break with Alfred Hitchcock. She had high hopes for the film, until she received the script. When she realized that she had a small part as Marlon Brando's estranged wife, she asked Charles Chaplin to expand her role. Although Chaplin tried to accommodate her, he could not, as the story mostly takes place on a ship, which Hedren's character boards near the end of the film. In the end, she remained in the film and later said that it was a pleasure working for him.