While reviewing this movie on his show, Gene Siskel recalled experiencing anti-Semitic prejudice during his time at prep school, including being handed piece of toast with jam in the shape of a swastika. Siskel said the film had a fairly high bar with him due to its subject matter, but the end result pleased him very much.
The Scranton Bus Depot scene was filmed outside Russell's Package Store in Leominster, Massachusetts. The building was a former train station, and the exterior looked like an old bus station. The owners were compensated for its use with a complete interior remodel. To this day, the Scranton, Pennsylvania Bus Depot decals remain in the front windows of the liquor store.
Ironically, considering the students' pervasive anti-Semitism, "Smokey Joe's Café", the song that the classmates enjoy (and which Mr. Cleary dismisses as being from the "jungle") was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, a pair of Jewish songwriters, who wrote many of the biggest radio hits of the 1950s and early 1960s. Many of the other songs in the movie and on the soundtrack were also written or co-written by Jewish songwriters, including "Rock Around the Clock", "Three Coins In The Fountain", "That Old Black Magic", "Isn't It Romantic", and "When I Take My Sugar To Tea."
The Hebrew prayer that David recites in the chapel is the "Avenu Malkenu" (literally, "Our Father, Our King"), which is a series of petitions to God to grant atonement. The prayer is repeated throughout the High Holy Days, ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah, the New Year in the Jewish calendar, and ending with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. David misses Rosh Hashanah services because of the football game.
The marching band in the film is from Westford Academy, in Westford, Massachusetts. One of the bass drum heads from the movie, signed by the cast and crew, is on display in the school's music department.
A night practice scene got cut after several re-shoots, due to tensions between the African-American players and the Caucasian players. After the director gave permission to the actors to actually hit each other, a fight broke out on-set, with Brendan Fraser and Matt Damon caught in the crossfire. The scene was shot in Twentynine Palms, California.
In the French version, Le College d'Elite, all the scenes with the obnoxious French teacher, Mr. Cleary, who keeps riding MCGiven, were changed to an Italian teacher. All the dialogue in French was dubbed in Italian. The name of the absent French teacher, Monsieur Renard, was changed to Signore Rinaldi.