In this film, Harriet recounts to several people her negative experiences working in a laundry in her youth. In her own life, Joan Crawford also had to work in a laundry because of her family's poverty, and hated it. Crawford's adopted daughter, Christina, theorized that this hatred led to the alleged "wire hangers" incident described by her in Mommie Dearest.
The original Broadway play Craig's Wife by George Kelly opened on October 12, 1925 at the Morosco Theater, and ran for 360 performances before winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1926. It is the screenplay source for this film.
Under the advice of director Vincent Sherman, Joan Crawford originally declined the title role when it was offered to her. Sherman felt she was ill suited for the part. However, when Sherman was ultimately contracted to direct the film, Crawford, aware of their previous success with The Damned Don't Cry (1950), changed her mind and signed on. Margaret Sullavan, who had taken the role after Crawford's initial rejection of it, was assigned elsewhere.
In the book The Films of Joan Crawford, there is a still from the film showing Joan Crawford with a cigarette in her hand in the living room scene following the dinner party. Since Harriet was such a neat freak, this scene was clearly later reshot.