The movie includes three of Buñuel's recurring dreams: a dream of being on stage and forgetting his lines, a dream of meeting his dead cousin in the street and following him into a house full of cobwebs, and a dream of waking up to see his dead parents staring at him.
In his autobiography, My Last Sigh, Luis Buñuel said he had difficulty finding a title for the film. On the last day of writing the script, he came up with A bas Lénine, ou la Vierge à l'écurie - Down with Lenin, or The Virgin in the Manger. Someone suggested Le Charme de la Bourgeoisie, and the adjective "discret" was eventually added. Buñuel said he and co-writer Jean-Claude Carrière never once thought of the word "bourgeoisie" while working on the screenplay.
In an interview, John Landis confessed that this film is one of his favorites and that the "dreams within dreams" gag in An American Werewolf in London (1981) was heavily inspired by the plot of this film.
In an interview, co-writer Jean-Claude Carrière revealed he and Bunuel had a starting point for the story but then became stuck. After meeting with the Producer, Serge Silberman, Silberman gave them inspiration when he recounted a story of how he had run into two Brazilian friends in the streets of Paris. Silberman invited these friends to do dinner the following Tuesday, forgetting that he had another dinner that day. It happened so quickly the producer forgot to tell his wife. The two Brazilians and their wives turned up to the Silberman household on the Tuesday night after Mrs Silberman had eaten and settled down for the night, and was watching TV in her dressing gown when the doorbell rang. This real-life event was used in the film for a similar scene.
In the dream sequence where the group dines in Rue Du Parc, Bishop Dufour (Julien Bertheau) tries on a Napoleonic hat. Bertheau had previously played Napoleon in The Count of Monte Cristo (1954) and Madame (1961) as well as in the stage plays "Napoleon" (1958) and "Ex-Napoleon" (1960).