Location filming in Vermont was hampered by heavy rainfall. Many exterior scenes were filmed on sets constructed in a local high school gymnasium, but much of the dialogue recorded there was inaudible due to the rainfall on the tin roof, and much post-recording was necessary.
This movie was Sir Alfred Hitchcock's experiment to see how audiences would react to a non-star-driven movie. He was of the opinion that oftentimes having a big star attached actually hindered the narrative flow and style of the story. He also developed the movie to test how American audiences would react to a more subtle brand of humor than they were used to.
This movie was unavailable for three decades because its rights (together with four other movies of the same period) were bought back by Sir Alfred Hitchcock and left as part of his legacy to his daughter Patricia Hitchcock. They were known for years as the infamous "five lost Hitchcocks" amongst movie buffs. The movies were re-released in theaters in 1984 after an approximately thirty year absence. The others are Rope (1948), Rear Window (1954), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), and Vertigo (1958).
Unlike some of Sir Alfred Hitchock's other leading ladies, Shirley MacLaine became his "eating buddy", and he took her for breakfast every day before shooting. He never propositioned her, but thought of her as "a girl who needed to be fed". Having just been plucked from the poverty-stricken life of a Broadway chorus girl, it was a pleasant change for MacLaine. As a result, she gained fifteen pounds during shooting, resulting in a phone call from the studio telling her to stop eating so much, as she was going to "ruin her career before it had even begun."
When Music Composer Lyn Murray was working on the music score for To Catch a Thief (1955), Sir Alfred Hitchcock was already looking for a composer for this movie, which was to be his next. So Murray suggested Bernard Herrmann. This was the beginning of the long professional relationship between Hitchcock and Herrmann.
Although this was a failure in the U.S., it played for a year in England and Italy, and for a year and a half in France. It was then re-released domestically, and did better, due to its stature abroad.
Jack Trevor Story's original novel, published in 1949, is set in post-war England, not America in the mid 1950s. There would seem to have been some censorship problems with the adaptation. In the book, the young son (who has a different name) is the illegitimate son of an R.A.F. pilot killed on a bombing raid, and Harry has married the unwed mother to prevent a stain falling on the family honor. There is also an extra character in the book, an unsavory war profiteer, who was edited from the movie completely.
When the millionaire pulls up to the roadside stand in to admire Sam's art, he is in a 1954 Chrysler Crown Imperial C66 Series. Only one hundred were made, with a base price of about seven thousand dollars (sixty-two thousand five hundred dollars in 2017). It is still not very popular, as one in excellent condition would fetch at most twenty thousand dollars at auction in 2016.
Several scenes had to be shot in a rented high school gym because of the rain. In the gym, a five hundred pound Technicolor camera fell from a great height, narrowly missing Director Sir Alfred Hitchcock.
The car that Calvin Wiggs drives appears to a 1913 Buick, repainted a modern color. The badge on the radiator, white with blue scrip, was used on Buicks. Although a right hand drive, it was common in early years, and was a carryover from horse and buggy. (They are still driven from the right.) Not all manufacturers adapted to left hand drive at the same time. Pierce Arrow continued into the 1920s. Buick switched in 1914.
Although a perverse sense of humor permeates all of his movies, this was Sir Alfred Hitchcock's only outright comedy. Perhaps because American audiences of the 1950s were uncomfortable with "black comedy", this was one of Hitchcock's few box-office failures upon its initial U.S. release.