When Frank Capra was nominated for his first Best Director Oscar in 1934 for his work on this movie, presenter Will Rogers merely opened the envelope and said, "Come and get it, Frank!". Already halfway to the stage, Capra realized that Rogers wasn't referring to him, but to Frank Lloyd, who was getting the award for Cavalcade (1933).
Radio City Music Hall booked the film's premiere without seeing it, because Frank Capra's The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1932) had been the theater's first film and they considered the director to be good luck.
At this point Columbia Pictures was still a "Poverty Row" operation with studio chief Harry Cohn adamant against hiring actors under long-term contracts. The cast of this film was largely obtained on loan from Warner Brothers' pool of talented character actors. Warren William was at the peak of his career and being loaned out to lowly Columbia was meant to humble any thoughts of greater salary demands. Although his career would wane in the mid-'30s, this film was a big hit.
Frank Capra had been loaned to MGM to work on a film called "Soviet" in exchange for $50,000 and Robert Montgomery's participation in this picture. Capra also hoped to get Marie Dressler's services from MGM. After "Soviet" was cancelled as a project, Columbia was unable to get either James Cagney from Warner Bros. or William Powell from MGM for the role of Dave the Dude; they also tried to get W.C. Fields from Paramount to play Judge Blake, but again could not make a deal.
One of the reasons Glenda Farrell was borrowed by Columbia from Warner Brothers, her home studio, and cast as Missouri Martin was because she was screenwriter Robert Riskin's then current girlfriend. When Capra remade Damon Runyon's story 28 years later, he found himself forced to accept Hope Lange in the same part, here rechristened Queenie Martin, because she was then the current paramour of co-producer star Glenn Ford.
Capra's choice to play Apple Annie was MGM's big box office draw, Marie Dressler, but studio boss Harry Cohn rejected the request and cast May Robson instead. Ironically Robson, who had just played a supporting role to Dressler in "Dinner at Eight," received an Oscar nomination for "Lady for a Day."
The 2012 Blu-ray edition restored the film to its complete version. and incorporated about four and a half minutes of previously lost footage, including a key scene where Dave, Blake and McGuire are planning the reception.