Despite Rock Hudson's pleasant camaraderie with everyone on the set and his apparent happiness in his marriage, Dorothy Malone said she found him to be somewhat of a loner who hid his feelings of sadness and insecurity. Nevertheless, she developed a bond with him that helped her through moments of tension on the set. "Rock gave me that sense of security whenever I worked with him."
All the cast members had compliments for Rock Hudson. He made a particular impression on Robert Stack, who definitely had the flashier part, while, as Hudson himself noted about his own role, "as usual, I am so pure I am impossible." Hudson, of course, was the star, and one of the top actors at the studio, while Stack was a lesser name on loan to Universal for the picture. "Almost any other actor I know in the business...would have gone up to the head of the studio and said, 'Hey, look, man, I'm the star - you cut this guy down or something,'" Stack said. "But he never did. I never forgot that."
According to Dorothy Malone, Rock Hudson helped her with her performance. "I loved Sirk as a director," she said, "but there was one day he just couldn't get through to me." Quietly and patiently, Hudson took Malone aside and, because he had so much experience with Douglas Sirk already, was able to make her understand what the director was trying to tell her.
The car Robert Stack drives in the movie is an Allard J2X but not the Le Mans model. This model has open fenders while the Le Mans has closed fenders. It was painted yellow my the studio for this movie. It is #3144.
At the same time she was shooting this picture, Lauren Bacall was struggling to learn her lines for Blithe Spirit (1956), co-starring Noël Coward and Claudette Colbert. Bacall was pressured by Coward's insistence that all his cast have their lines letter-perfect by the time work began on the production.
Kyle Hadley is driving an Allard J2X Le Mans. Allard Motors of GB built these expensive cars using American engines, using the then new and refined Cadillac 303 cubic inch (5.4 liter) V-8 and later some with the new Chrysler hemi. In the early '50's these Cadillac powerplants did well in the 24 hr. Le Mans races.
During production, Rock Hudson was married to Phyllis Gates, his manager's former secretary. It was a short-lived marriage that many people, after Hudson's homosexuality became known, insisted must have been a pre-arranged sham. But those who observed the two together, when Phyllis visited the set or when she and Hudson joined Robert Stack and his wife for casual weekends, said they never thought there was anything between them to indicate that their relationship was entirely a lie.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Douglas Sirk wanted it to be stated that Kyle Hadley had homosexual leanings towards Mitch Wayne and was secretly in love with him. However, this could not be mentioned directly due to the Hays Code. Nevertheless, the implication was so strong that 1956 audiences were given ample opportunity to read it either way; to today's audiences, the subtext may be pretty obvious.
The movie was rumored to be based on the death of tobacco heir Zachary "Smith" Reynolds. The youngest son of tobacco magnate R.J. Reynolds, the 20-year-old playboy had a complete disinterest in the family business, an inexhaustible allowance and a volatile temper. Smith owned a plane and literally stalked Broadway musical comedy star Libby Holman until the 27-year-old singer married him in 1931. Their marriage was a clash of wills and, during an alcohol-fueled July 4th holiday party in 1932 at the family's estate, Libby announced she was pregnant. Stories differ, but there was reportedly a tense confrontation, a gunshot and the young Smith was dead. Libby and Ab Walker, a close friend of Smith's who was whispered to be her lover, were indicted for murder. Fearing scandal over their son's activities, the intensely secretive Reynolds family "persuaded" authorities to drop the charges. The death was officially ruled a suicide.
Robert Stack said he did no research to prepare for his difficult role. "I just went and used my imagination, and I was doing DTs and madness and the six stages of drunkenness, and it was a good chance to truly prove that I could either do something pretty good or completely fall on my face." Stack got so involved in his part that Lauren Bacall, enacting the scene where he had to knock her over the bed and induce a miscarriage, became a little worried. As Stack later related it, Bacall told him, "You're crazy, your eyes are crazy." Stack told her the character was supposed to be crazy and she replied, "I don't mean acting crazy, you really are crazy!"