Philip Seymour Hoffman auditioned for his role five times before he was cast. Hoffman was working various odd jobs in between sporadic film and TV roles where his current job at the time was stocking shelves at a Manhattan deli before being cast. Hoffman cited this as the film that changed everything for his career.
As a guest on Inside the Actors Studio (1994) (Oct. 2, 2006), Al Pacino recounted to host James Lipton how he'd had an embarrassing moment in a crowded elevator after winning his first Oscar. Unbeknownst to Pacino, was that the head of his statuette was poking a well-known actress in her posterior. When she turned around, Pacino quickly explained that his Oscar, not he, was to blame for her discomfort.
Frank's bizarre habit of yelling "hoo-wah!" is an actual United States Army battlecry, although he is saying it wrong. He places far too much of a "W" sound on the second syllable. The real version is closer to "hoo-ah!"
Al Pacino originally turned down the lead role. Jack Nicholson, Harrison Ford, Dustin Hoffman, and Joe Pesci were next considered for the lead. Pacino's agent convinced him to take the part and on his agents advice reluctantly accepted it. He later gave his agent credit on In the Actors Studio for making him reconsider taking his Oscar winning role.
An adaptation of Giovanni Arpino's novel "Il buio e il miele", the movie actually shares with the book only the basic premise (young man accompanies on a journey a blind ex-officer who is bitter, charismatic and strong-willed).
To force Charlie to leave the Waldorf Astoria, Col. Slade asks him for medicines and Montecristo No. 1 from a nearby street. Montecristo is a Cuban tobacco limited in the USA's territory due to Cuba's trade sanctions. There is also a Dominican version of the same cigar easily available in most smoke shops.
There seems to be some confusion between the terms "hoo-ah" and "oo-rah." "Oo-rah" is a United States Marine Corps expression with a completely separate history from the United States Army expression "hoo-ah." "Hoo-ah" derives from the acronym HUA which stands for "Heard, Understood, Acknowledged." Over the years this phrase has taken on many meanings to US Army personnel including; "understood?", "thanks", "I'm not listening to you", "go away", "you're a moron", "excellent!", "shut up", etc. For the origin of the Marine expression "oo-rah"... ask any Marine. They all know, and they'll be happy to explain it.
During the meeting of Baird's Disciplinary Committee, in the background on the wall of the great hall can be seen the next quote: "The place where people meet to seek the highest is holy ground". This quote was pronounced by Felix Adler (1851-1933), a prominent religious leader and Jew rationalist who created the idea about Ethical Culture.