When Universal announced on February 20, 1946 its purchase of the screen rights to the Broadway show, Felix Jackson, then-husband of Deanna Durbin, was assigned to produce the film. Instead, the studio revealed on November 8 that Mr. Jackson would be opting out of the remainder of his contract after he finished overseeing the editing of another Durbin feature, I'll Be Yours (1947).
Two members of the Broadway show's creative team were exported to the Universal International lot. Helen Tamiris adapted her stage choreography for the screen, and stage designer Howard Bay was hired as the film's production designer.
Shooting in Technicolor was set to start in December 1946, but due to a year-end strike at the Technicolor processing facilities, the project was initially postponed until July 1947. When filming actually commenced in October, black-and-white cinematography was employed as a cost-saving measure to keep the movie budgeted at about $2,000,000. In addition, Universal International was avoiding a Technicolor bottleneck, as described by William Goetz, the studio's production chief, to Thomas F. Brady of The New York Times on September 28, 1947. With a color shoot, Mr. Goetz explained, studio capital would be tied up in the picture for nearly a year after its completion. Back in January, Universal International, wanting Deanna Durbin to stay active, had rushed her before the black-and-white cameras in another vehicle, Something in the Wind (1947), which the studio had bought for her in August 1946.
In its initial Broadway run of 504 performances, the stage show appeared in two houses: playing the New Century Theatre between January 27 and June 10, 1945; then continuing at the Broadway Theatre between June 11, 1945 and April 13, 1946. The musical was revived in a limited engagement at City Center between May 19 and May 31, 1947.
A best-selling Bing Crosby record on Decca in 1945, "Close as Pages in a Book" (music by Sigmund Romberg, lyrics by Dorothy Fields), sung by Deanna Durbin and Dick Haymes, did not go over well among preview attendees, so the duet was cut from this film. The melody is played over the opening credits and again over the end title. In Britain, the prerecording has been issued on the 2004 Jasmine CD, "Dick Haymes in Hollywood."
As reported by A.H. Weiler in the October 20, 1946 edition of The New York Times, William Dozier, vice president and associate head of production at Universal International, noted that Fred Astaire was, in Mr. Dozier's words, "intelligent and creative as the dickens and we think he could and would be the right man" to direct this film. Mr. Astaire turned down the offer.
One comic number in the stage show, "The Birds and the Bees" (music by Sigmund Romberg, lyrics by Dorothy Fields), concerning the facts of life, was deemed too suggestive for filming by the Production Code administrators. In addition, Code guidelines would not permit the Boss Tweed character to sing as he attempted to seduce Rosie Moore, so the filmed "Currier and Ives" ballet was presented instrumentally, absent the vocal contribution by Boss Tweed.