After this musical flopped at the box office, Fox decided to substantially cut and re-market the film. They did some primitive market research, and tested audience response to three titles: "Music For The Lady," "Star!" and "Those Were The Happy Days". The latter got the best response, but (possibly to avoid confusion with a couple songs about happy days) the final title was "Those Were The Happy Times". Robert Wise didn't believe revamping the the film would work but he didn't interfere. He declined to be involved in the re-cutting and asked that his credit "A Robert Wise Film" be removed. William Reynolds, the film's original editor, was hired to cut down the film based on instructions from Richard D. Zanuck. The cuts were a bad idea but they were very adeptly done. They hired the same artist who did the poster for "Sound Of Music" and every attempt was made to make audiences think this 120 minute version was a similar film. The original title was tucked into a corner of all the ads, so audiences were not fooled and this desperate effort only convinced people who hadn't seen the original that it really was a bad film. By the time it debuted on American television, the original title was restored, but the picture was still cut. At almost the same time, it debuted on TV in England, but in the full original version, missing only the overture and entr'acte.
This film grew out of a massive attempt by Twentieth Century-Fox to duplicate its earlier success with The Sound of Music (1965) by producing three expensive, large-scale musicals over a period of three years, Doctor Dolittle (1967) and Hello, Dolly! (1969) being the others. Unfortunately, tastes in popular entertainment were beginning to change and all three films' box-office performance reflected this. All were released amidst massive pre-release publicity and all lost equally massive amounts of money for the studio. The result was that several top studio executives lost their jobs, and the studio itself went into such dire financial straits that it only produced one picture for the entire calendar year of 1970. In truth, it would never recoup its losses until a highly successful theatrical reissue of "The Sound of Music" in early 1973.
Apart from Richard Aldrich, a certain amount of dramatic license was taken with the men in Gertie's life. In the movie, her first husband, a stage manager, is called Jack Roper and is apparently not much older. In real life, his name was Frank Gordon-Howley and he was twenty years her senior. Her upper-class, Guardsman boyfriend was not called Sir Anthony Spencer, but Captain Philip Astley; he later married Madeleine Carroll. And the Wall Street banker she met while on Broadway was named Bert Taylor, not Ben Mitchell.
The origins of this project date back to 1955, as a musical/drama vehicle produced by Warner Brothers for Judy Garland, and as a follow-up to her triumph in A Star Is Born (1954). After Garland lost the Academy Award for Best Actress that year, in addition to the hatred Jack L. Warner had working with Garland and Sidney Luft (the film's producer and Garland's third husband) during the film's production, all future projects between Transcona Productions (the production company set up by Garland and Luft) were abandoned and her three-picture contract canceled.
Julie Andrews' contract for "The Sound of Music" (1965) required her to do a second film for Twentieth Century Fox. Robert Wise and Saul Chaplin were so impressed with Julie Andrews that as they were completing "The Sound of Music" (1965), they knew they had to take advantage of this by doing another big musical to cast her in.
During the cricket match in the alley, there is a line "If that was a googly, I'm a Chinaman". In cricket, a "googly" is type of delivery bowled by right-handed leg-spinner, where the ball moves into the batsman rather than away from him. It is also called a "wrong'un". (Note: left-handed spin bowlers are sometimes called "chinaman" bowlers.)
To insure the quality of their expensive big budget musical, Twentieth Century Fox hired some of the people responsible for some of the classic MGM musicals including producer Saul Chaplin, choreographer Michael Kidd and Lennie Hayton, former MGM Music Director.