When Brewster and Suzanne are inside the Astroworld theme park, they enter the Lost World River Adventure. This particular theme ride was later renamed the River of No Return in 1976, and officially decommissioned in 1983. Astroworld, part of the Six Flags empire, was closed after 31 October 2005 and the entire park was razed in February 2006.
Daphne Heap (Margaret Hamilton) is shown wearing red slippers (though they are identified as being rhinestone rather than ruby), a reference to Hamilton's role in The Wizard of Oz (1939). The shot includes a few bars of "Over the Rainbow" on the soundtrack. Hamilton's character in the film is also evil in nature - to keep up with the time period with the turbulence of the late 1960s especially the Civil Rights Movement she is portrayed as a bigot where she uses the "N" word (racial epithet for African Americans) prior to her death scene.
The movie premier took place inside the Astrodome. Harris County Judge Roy Hofheinz, who controlled the Dome at that time, promoted the movie by trying to sell tickets for cars to drive in and watch the movie. Failing this, VIPs watched the movie from folding chairs on the field.
Part of the chase scene filmed in the Riverside Terrace neighborhood east of Almeda Road (e.g., where Shaft's Camaro Z28 crashes through an abandoned house; a dead-end cul-de-sac) was later bulldozed by the Texas Department of Transportation when State Highway 288 was built through a section of Riverside Terrace. This particular location (a sharp curve on North MacGregor east of Almeda Road) no longer exists and in its place the Highway 288 overpass was constructed, as well as the elevated sections for the service lanes.
Doran William Cannon had a clause in his contract prohibiting anyone else from receiving writing credit on this film. Thus he received the sole writing credit, although very little of his script beyond the basic story ended up in the movie.
Louise is seen driving a 1970 AMC Gremlin. Five years after the film's release, the Houston Police Department used a 1975 AMC Gremlin as an experimental police vehicle for its Traffic Bureau division - no fleet orders came to fruition. The traffic bureau division (known as the Downtown Houston parking detail) is the predecessor of HPD's Traffic Enforcement Division (one spinoff division is the Mobility Unit which is part of HPD Special Operations) and the City of Houston Parking Management Division.
The audio rack with the 15" reel-to-reel tape recorder & other equipment used by Bud Cort in the bowels of the Astrodome was provided by Houston Electronics Co. (now defunct) & was later sold to Texas radio evangelist Lester Roloff for use in his Rebekah Home for Girls in Corpus Christi, TX, who likely had no idea of its prior use. It was used to record secretly what went on in the rooms because it could record at a very slow IPS rate & long recording time.
The railroad viaduct where part of the chase scene took place is a former Houston Belt and Terminal rail line located west of Ardmore Street in the Riverside subdivision; this particular location was decommissioned (and demolished) in the early 1980s when State Highway 288 was under construction.
The Y-shaped building seen in the opening credits is the Astrohall. After Reliant Energy owned the naming rights to the Astrodomain since October 2000, the Astrohall was demolished in May 2002 to make way for a parking lot for Reliant Stadium. In reality, the Astrohall was used for livestock exhibitions because the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was one of the tenants.
When Abraham Wright is seen rolling downhill, the M & M Building is seen in the background. At the time of filming, the building was used by South Texas Junior College until 1974, when the University of Houston system took over the building and rechristened the building as the University of Houston - Downtown. The southbound lanes seen in the film during this particular scene was reconstructed in 2002 as part of the (then) northern terminus of the METRORail line, which officially opened on January 1, 2004. Since December 2013, the former northern terminus (now the Red Line Extension) now terminates at the Northline Transit Center.
Johnson is seen driving west on the Southwest Freeway (U.S. 59) in one scene of the film - at the time of filming, there was a road sign where eastbound traffic had to exit northeast. This particular exit is known to Houstonians as the Spur 527. This stretch of the Southwest Freeway was completed in May 1961; as of February 2004, plans are underway to reconstruct the freeway below grade level (in other words - the freeway will be in a trench). The freeway reconstruction was completed in June 2006.
In the film, most of the greenspace surrounding the Astrodome was undeveloped (e.g. where Fannin and Knight Road intersect, along with a stretch of Holly Hall Road) back in 1970 - most of the area surrounding the Astrodome has been developed, either as retail or as part of the Texas Medical Center.
A billboard next to a railroad crossing (location unknown) during the hot pursuit scene has an advertisement for the former MacRobert Chevrolet dealership - there were 2 Houston locations (4905 North Shepherd in the Garden Oaks area and 10306 South Post Oak at West Bellfort - the South Post Oak location was renamed A.J. Foyt Chevrolet in 1973). Foyt sold the latter dealership in the late 1980s where it was renamed Texstar Chevrolet until the early 1990s when the site was razed - the former car dealer compound is now the location of a Kroger Signature grocery store (Meyer Park location) since 1995. The North Shepherd location was razed and redeveloped.
At the time this film was shot, there was no recognized film industry in Texas. After its release, the Texas Film Commission was created in 1971 as a division of the Texas Department of Commerce. The commission became part of the Office of the Texas Governor in 1991 when Gov.Ann Richards took office.
Doran William Cannon's script was in existence for some years before Altman's film was finally made. At one point, Bob Dylan had an option on the script and considered making the film with himself in the title role.