Sir Michael Caine was so very much beside himself to be working with Sir Laurence Olivier that he didn't even know how to address him. Eventually, he broke down and just asked. Olivier replied "Well, I am the Lord Olivier and you are Mr. Michael Caine. Of course, that's only for the first time you address me. After that I am Larry, and you are Mike."
John Addison was nominated for an Oscar for his music score. However, he was not originally among the five nominees when the nominations were announced. He was added to the list after the score for The Godfather (1972) was deemed ineligible.
(At around forty-seven minutes) When tossing the chess pieces to the floor, Sir Laurence Olivier cuts the palm of his hand very badly. You can see him look down at his hand, put his handkerchief in his palm, and put his hand in his jacket pocket. He then finishes the scene. Leonardo DiCaprio had a similar experience while filming the dinner scene in Django Unchained (2012), in which he accidentally cut his hand on some broken glass.
The reason Sir Alan Bates thought the role was "beneath" him was that he walked out of the stage show at intermission after believing that his character had been killed when Andrew "shot" him at the end of the first act.
In Andrew Wyke's cellar, a life preserver from the R.M.S. Mauretania is seen hanging from a wooden post. Built in 1906, the R.M.S. Mauretania was a luxury ocean liner owned by the Cunard line. She was a sister ship of the R.M.S. Lusitania. For thirty years, the Mauretania carried upper-class passengers between London and New York City. When she was scrapped in 1935, the Mauretania's first class reading-writing room was moved to Pinewood Studios in London (where the cellar scenes were filmed), and became the studio's board room.
The original stage production of "Sleuth" by Anthony Shaffer opened on Broadway on November 12, 1970. It originally starred Sir Anthony Quayle as Andrew, and Keith Baxter as Milo, ran for one thousand two hundred twenty-two performances, and won the 1971 Tony Award for the Best Play.
The two London street name signs in Andrew's cellar are references to crime mysteries; Baker Street was the fictional residence of Sherlock Holmes, and Berner Street was the real-life scene of a Jack the Ripper murder.
(At around one hour) The line "you're just a jumped-up pantry boy who doesn't know his place" is repeated almost verbatim in the song "This Charming Man" by The Smiths, 1982. Lyricist and singer Morrissey has always been fascinated by English pop culture and class issues, and several working-class English actors and actresses of the 1960s (including Terence Stamp, Rita Tushingham, and Diana Dors) appear in the role of "cover star" on The Smiths' albums.
(At around five minutes) The statue of the troglodyte guitarist in the maze of Andrew Wyke's (Sir Laurence Olivier's) house, also appeared in the nightclub, in Play It Cool (1962), and in Rudi's Bar in The Human Jungle (1963) season one, episode six, "A Friend of the Sergeant Major".
(At around one hour and five minutes) When Andrew goes and answers the ring of the doorbell, you see him walk past two pictures of the former King Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor on a wall. The Duke of Windsor died during the making of this movie and the production team added a historical touch to mark this event by including pictures of the late Duke.
Michael Caine tells in his biography that Laurence Olivier could not, at first, remember his lines - he, a great stage actor who could initially remember three hours play. He could not because of pills he took to calm him down, after he knew that a theater of his, which he put much money and many efforts in for many years, had to be closed down. But Olivier eventually stopped taking those pills and his memory issues stopped.
To confuse potential moviegoers who were unaware that the tricky plot of the play upon which this movie was based involved only two characters, several pre-release stories, including one widely-syndicated on-set interview by Rex Reed, suggested that this movie would feature a lot of cameos by unnamed stars. In a 1993 interview for "Films in Review", director Joseph L. Mankiewicz claimed that the names of the extra non-existent red herring characters in the credits were members of his wife Rosemary Mathews' family.
In addition to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and Give 'em Hell, Harry! (1975), this was only one of three movies in which the entire on-screen billed cast received Oscar nominations. (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) featured two unbilled bit players as roadhouse employees, but neither of them were nominated.)
"Eve Channing" is a combination of "Eve Harrington" and "Margot Channing", the two main characters in Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's All About Eve (1950). "Higgs" is the name of the dead body in Tom Stoppard's play "The Real Inspector Hound", a parody of Dame Agatha Christie-type mysteries. "Alec Cawthorne" is also the name of a movie writer for the BBC. The name Alec Cawthorne is virtually an anagram for "Or Michael Caine". To achieve the spelling, flip the "W" in Cawthorne upside down to get the "M" in Michael, and separate the horizontal and vertical lines in the letter "T" to get the two "I"s needed, one in Michael, and one in Caine. The rest of the letters fall naturally into place.