This movie is notable for a whip-fight between two women, which was not in the original novel but was already in the 1945 version. The scene caused a controversy, as the British Board of Film Classification wanted to impose a cut, and director Michael Winner refused to cut the notorious sequence, lobbying with such fellow director colleagues as Lindsay Anderson, Karel Reisz and John Schlesinger as well as novelist Kingsley Amis to defend retention of the scene. The scene stayed, but the film's release was delayed.
Director Michael Winner once said how he wanted to make this film ever since he was a boy and saw the original The Wicked Lady (1945). He felt the original film deserved better, as it suffered from being studio bound, with fake trees and painted backdrops.
This movie screened out of competition at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival. Menahem Golan once said of this: "There was a dispute in Cannes that year. They appointed me as a judge in the festival and then, out of the blue, informed me that they had invited someone else instead of me. I sued them, and to settle it, they agreed to screen The Wicked Lady (1983) in the competition. But it wasn't worth much because the film wasn't good."
This movie is based on the true story of highway-woman Lady Kathleen Ferrers. The Wicked Lady lived at the Markyate Cell manor in the village of Markyate which was near Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire. The name Lady Kathleen Ferrers was changed to Barbara Skelton for the novel written by Magdalen King-Hall. This book was adapted for both this film and the earlier version The Wicked Lady (1945).
Faye Dunaway once joked about a sequel to this movie to be entitled 'Daughter of Wicked Lady' where she would reprise the role of Lady Barbara Skelton, playing a the character older, more matured and mentoring a wicked daughter.
Halliwell's Film Guide wrote of this movie's controversial whip-fight sequence: "The fight owed much to a similar scene in Idol of Paris (1948) directed by Leslie Arliss in 1948." Arliss directed The Wicked Lady (1945), which featured already a whip-fight, and co-wrote this remake. That reference was dropped since Halliwell's 2nd edition.
The actor Mark Burns appeared in the film as King Charles II, but during the filming Michael Winner could not afford to pay him even the Equity union minimum fee. Burns told him to make a donation to the Police Memorial Trust, which was run by Winner. Years later when Burns appeared at a magistrates court on a charge of speeding, Winner, appearing as a character witness, told the bench that the actor had given "his entire fee" for a major film to the fund and Burns was subsequently discharged.[