Don Siegel had 25 years earlier been a mentor to Sam Peckinpah, and by the time this film was made Peckinpah was all-but banished from the industry due to his troubled film productions. Siegel gave him a chance to return to filmmaking. During production of this film he asked Peckinpah if he would be interested in directing 12 days of second unit work. Peckinpah immediately accepted, and his earnest collaboration with his longtime friend was noted within the industry. While Peckinpah's work was uncredited, it would lead to his being hired as the director of his final film, The Osterman Weekend (1983).
After Don Siegel suffered a heart attack during production, Sam Peckinpah stepped in and directed some of the film without credit. Screenwriter Frank D. Gilroy removed his name from the film and was credited as "Burt Blessing".
Director Don Siegel had so many clashes, arguments and fights with Bette Midler on this film that after it was finished, he was quoted as saying, "I'd let my wife, children and animals starve before I'd subject myself to something like that again".
The film is based on the 1980 novel The Edge by Frank D. Gilroy. He sold the film rights to the Ladd Company at Warner Bros. intending to direct; Ladd then sold the project to Herb Jaffe at United Artists for $300,000 and Jaffe hired David Newman to rewrite it. A UA production executive suggested Bette Midler for the lead and she asked for Don Siegel to direct. The script was rewritten by Jerry Blatt, Carol Rydall, Midler and Siegel. During development it was also known as The Jackpot and Hot Streak. Gilroy had his name removed from the film and was credited as "Burt Blessing".