Throughout the filming, Doris Day became increasingly concerned that Sir Alfred Hitchcock paid more attention to camera set-ups, lighting, and technical matters than he did to her performance. Convinced that he was displeased with her work, she finally confronted him. His reply was, "My dear Miss Day, if you weren't giving me what I wanted, then I would have to direct you!"
It was during the making of this movie, when she saw how camels, goats and other "animal extras" in a marketplace scene were being treated, that Doris Day began her lifelong commitment to preventing animal abuse. She was so appalled at the conditions the animals were in, that she refused to work unless they were properly fed and cared for. The production company actually had to set up "feeding stations" for the various goats, sheep, camels, et cetera, and feed them every day before Day would agree to go back to work.
Movie buffs considered this one of the "Five lost Hitchcocks" (with Rear Window (1954), Rope (1948), The Trouble with Harry (1955), and Vertigo (1958)) because they were unavailable for thirty years because their rights were bought back by Sir Alfred Hitchcock and left as part of his legacy to his daughter. The five movies were re-released in theaters around 1984. This movie was revived again in 2018 movie archive circuits, in the original projection system (VistaVision) and dimensional sound system (Perspecta Sound), due to the preservation work of UCLA movie archive.
At first Doris Day refused to record "Que Sera, Sera" as a popular song release, dismissing it as "a forgettable children's song". It not only went on to win an Academy Award, but also became the biggest hit of her recording career and her signature song. She sang the same song in two more movies, Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960) and The Glass Bottom Boat (1966), and it was used as the theme song for all one hundred twenty-four episodes of her television series, The Doris Day Show (1968).
The movie was originally to be produced by Paramount Pictures and Patron, a company to be jointly owned by James Stewart, Doris Day, and Sir Alfred Hitchcock. When the movie finally went before the cameras, the production company was Filwite Productions, Inc., co-owned by Hitchcock and Stewart. The reason Day was not included in the final production deal has not been publicly disclosed. However, it may have had something to do with Day's husband and manager at the time, Martin Melcher, a man absolutely despised and considered shady by many in Hollywood. (There was good reason for this. Ms. Day eventually learned that she was all but penniless as a result of his management.)
Initially, the script contained a great deal of dialogue at The Royal Albert Hall. According to The New York Times, James Stewart was originally to deliver a page-long speech about why they had to stop the concert. But this didn't go over well with Sir Alfred Hitchcock. "You're talking so much, I'm unable to enjoy the London Symphony", Hitchcock complained to Stewart. "Just wave your arms a lot and run up the stairs." This was apparently normal behavior for Hitchcock, who was "suspicious of the spoken word."
DIRECTOR CAMEO (Sir Alfred Hitchcock): In the Moroccan marketplace in a crowd watching the elevated acrobats with his back to the camera, on the extreme left, immediately before the murder. Be alert and look quickly (and if possible, have "pause" and "rewind" controls available), as this cameo is very easy to miss, even after repeated viewings, because the viewer's eye is naturally drawn to the acrobats.
The plot called for a man (Daniel Gélin in the role of Louis Bernard) to be discovered as "not Moroccan" because he was wearing dark make-up. After numerous trials, the Make-up Artists couldn't find a make-up that would come off easily. Instead, they painted James Stewart's fingers with light-colored powder, so that he would leave pale streaks on Gélin's skin (according to Patricia Hitchcock, this idea was suggested by Daniel Gélin).
Many of the Moroccan extras had been mistakenly informed that they would only be paid if they were actually visible in the movie. This led to a lot of pushing and shoving to get close to the camera, until the crew explained to them that they would be paid no matter what.
Doris Day was so popular with the British that when she arrived at her London hotel for location shooting, mobs of fans had gotten word that she would be staying there, and had gathered. Pandemonium erupted when they saw her, and she needed a police escort to get in. Fans continued to surround the hotel, camping out, shouting her name, asking for autographs, and hoping for a chance to see her. The hotel management finally had to ask her to leave.
Doris Day had a fear of flying ever since touring with Bob Hope in the 1940s, and enduring some close calls in impenetrable winter weather. She almost turned down her role in this movie because it required travel to London and Marrakesh. Her husband and manager, Martin Melcher, talked her into accepting it.
In 1965, Sir Alfred Hitchcock and James Stewart filed a four million dollar lawsuit against Paramount Pictures, arguing that their eight-year agreement with the studio had ended, and that Paramount Pictures had breached its copyright by televising the movie. Hitchcock and Stewart also requested that Paramount Pictures return the movie's original negative to them. The final disposition of this suit has not been made public, but the movie remained unavailable for commercial exhibition for many years.
John Michael Hayes wrote the screenplay based on a treatment written by Angus MacPhail. However, Hayes was infuriated when Sir Alfred Hitchcock submitted Hayes' and MacPhail's names to receive credit for the screenplay. Hayes demanded arbitration by the Writers Guild of America, which judged Hayes to be the sole author. Though he was successful in his bid for credit, it caused a permanent rift between Hitchcock and Hayes.
Sir Alfred Hitchcock first considered an American remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) in 1941, but only brought back the idea in 1956, to make a movie that would fulfill a contractual demand from Paramount Pictures. The studio agreed it was a movie that could be well-adapted to the new decade.
In a 1994 interview available on the liner notes of a Rhino compilation of Oscar-winning songs, songwriter Jay Livingston says that he came across the phrase "Que Sera Sera" in the movie The Barefoot Contessa (1954), when Rossano Brazzi shows Ava Gardner his house, and she sees the inscription "Que Sera Sera" on the gate. He tells her that is the family motto, and it means "Whatever will be, will be".
This movie finished production thirty-seven days behind schedule, including six shutdown days. Paramount Pictures internal memos show that the movie went well over its original budget, costing one million eight hundred thirty-four thousand dollars, exclusive of the stars' and Sir Alfred Hitchcock's salaries.
Bernard Herrmann was given the option of composing a new cantata to be performed during the climax. However, he found Arthur Benjamin's cantata Storm Clouds from the original The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) to be so well suited to the movie, that he declined, although he did expand the orchestration, and insert several repeats to make the sequence longer. Herrmann can be seen conducting the London Symphony Orchestra and singers during the Royal Albert Hall scenes.
The exterior of Ambrose Chapel was filmed at St. Saviour's Church Hall in St. Saviour's Road, Brixton Hill, London, England. (The interior was filmed on a soundstage in Los Angeles, California.) St. Saviour's was sold off by the Church of England in the 1970s, and has since been torn down.
The Albert Hall sequence drew some inspiration from Henry Mayo Bateman's comic "The One-Note Man", which followed the daily life of a musician who only plays one note in a symphony, similar to the cymbal player in this movie.
It has been erroneously reported that in the Ambrose Chapel sequence the congregation is singing a meaningless continuing drone. They are in fact singing a version of a hymn, "From whence these dire Portents around", from the Magdalen Chapel hymn book of 1791, sung to a traditional tune called "Burford".
A Vicary Street sign can be seen though the telephone box when Jo rings the police. Vicary Street was in Blenheim Gardens, running off Brandon Road. However, it no longer exists, having been demolished during the construction of the Blenheim Gardens Estate. It was about three blocks away from St. Saviour's Church Hall (the exterior used for Ambrose Chapel).
Rarely for a Sir Alfred Hitchcock movie, two characters among Jo McKenna's U.K. theatrical friends greeting her at the hotel, are the real-life theater patron and manager Val Parnell and his wife Helen.
The Marksman uses a Finnish Lahti L-35 9mm semi-automatic pistol. Reggie Nalder should be a familiar face to Star Trek (1966) fans as Andorian ambassador Shras in season two, episode ten, "Journey to Babel", and to horror fans as the vampire Barlow in Salem's Lot (1979).
On the advertising poster, you can see the date of the Albert Hall concert: Monday, 6 June, at 8:00. So the action takes place in 1955, the year that this movie was shot, when June 6th was a Monday (1949 had the same calendar, but is not likely). The movie is supposed to begin on Saturday, June 4, and finish on Monday, June 6, 1955.
When Josephine exits the phone booth, there is a billboard seen advertising Life Savers candies which may or may not have been intentional symbolism on Sir Alfred Hitchcock's part relating to the plot.
The airplane shown in this movie (G-AMOF) was a Viscount 701 owned by BEA. It was the thirteenth production Viscount made by Vickers-Armstrongs. It first flew on July 23, 1953. It was sold to the Brazilian airline VASP in August of 1962 for around one hundred ten thousand Great British Pounds. It was damaged beyond repair in a landing accident at Rio de Janeiro's airport on October 31, 1966, and scrapped.
When Ben and Jo McKenna arrive in London searching for their son, they're greeted at the hotel by some of Jo's old theater friends. The lone man in the group is Val Parnell, which is coincidentally the name of an actual theater patron and manager.
The grey suit that Josephine wears in the latter part of the movie is not identical to the grey suit that Madeleine wears in Vertigo (1958). Josephine's suit is silk dupioni and has six buttons, whereas Madeleine's suit in Vertigo (1958) is wool and has five buttons. The tailoring is slightly different, and the pockets are not identical.
Bernard Herrmann: Conductor plays himself on-screen. Walking to the Albert Hall, Josephine McKann passes by a billboard naming the conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, and the mezzo-soprano soloist Barbara Howitt of the Covent Garden Opera Chorus. Both are in opening credits for the "Cantata Storm Clouds". This movie may be the only surviving movie of the (uncredited) Orchestra's Leader, violinist George Stratton, and Principal Cello Dennis Nisbett.