Diane Keaton replaced Mia Farrow. The lead female role was written for Farrow by Woody Allen but Keaton got the part following the breakup of the pair's personal relationship. Reportedly, Farrow apparently showed up for the first day's shooting, much to Allen's consternation.
In the scene in which Diane Keaton's character sees her "dead" neighbor riding a bus, there is an advertisement for the Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo (1958), one of the many references to that film that appear in the movie.
"Manhattan Murder Mystery" was actually the generic working title during production--Woody Allen films usually have generic titles during production like "Woody Allen Fall Project"--but since no new title could be thought of, Allen decided to leave that as the title.
Anjelica Huston said that the set was "oddly free of anxiety, introspection and pain" and attributed this largely due to the presence of Diane Keaton. Huston added: "On this movie, he [Woody Allen] showed up in the hair and makeup trailer to tease Diane about her hair and her big photography books, all diligently marked with yellow stick-'em paper. Around Diane, he was open and accessible".
When Larry and Carol go to the theater, the play they are seeing is "Guys and Dolls". The original Broadway production of "Guys and Dolls" in 1950 starred Robert Alda, whose son Alan Alda is in this film.
In the book "Woody Allen on Woody Allen (rev ed. 2004), Woody Allen Allen said of rewriting Mia Farrow's part for Diane Keaton: "No, I couldn't do that. In a regular script I would have done that upon hiring Diane Keaton. But I couldn't because it's a murder mystery, and it's very tightly plotted, so it's very hard to make big changes . . . I had written [the character for] more to what Mia likes to do. Mia likes to do funny things, but she's not as broad a comedian as Diane is. So Diane made this part funnier than I wrote it".
As of June 2013, this is the final Woody Allen and Diane Keaton film. It's also the only Allen-Keaton film of the 1990s and the only film that the pair had co-starred in since 1979's Manhattan (1979) (Keaton had a small cameo in the Allen film Radio Days (1987)).
During the early 1970s, Woody Allen was working on a script about two New Yorkers who try to solve a murder, when he got stuck. While blocked, he noticed a book on Russian history at his home. As the deadline was fast approaching for delivery of a contracted screenplay, Allen got inspired and decided to spoof the entire genre of novels based on Russian history, and this became Love and Death (1975). He put the mystery script on the back-burner. That script eventually became the one used for this film.
According to the show-business trade paper "Variety", "Aside from the 'Oedipus Wrecks' episode from New York Stories (1989), this represents ['Woody Allen (I)''s\ first flat-out comedy in nearly a decade".
The scandal surrounding Woody Allen's break-up with Mia Farrow, which had served as a big backdrop to the theatrical release of Allen's previous film Husbands and Wives (1992), was still very much in the public's mind when this film was released. For example, it was still being extensively referred to in the New York Times article promoting this picture [See: "Diane and Woody, Still a Fun Couple", The New York Times, 15th August 1993].
According to Diane Keaton, Woody Allen never discussed on set or with her the living hell he was going through while making this movie, which occurred in the middle of a custody battle with Mia Farrow.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
In the scene in which Carol (Diane Keaton) summons Larry (Woody Allen) to leave the office in the middle of the afternoon to meet her outside in the park, she describes to him that she had got inside the apartment of Paul House (Jerry Adler), the neighbor she suspects of killing his wife. When her husband asks her, "What if he came back and caught you there?", Carol answered, "I couldn't think that far in advance". This is the exact line Keaton spoke in Annie Hall (1977).