Humphrey Bogart was involved in a serious automobile accident during production of this film, which knocked out several of his teeth and hindered his ability to speak. John Huston reportedly hired a young British actor noted for his mimicry skills to rerecord some of Bogart's spoken lines during post-production looping. Although it is undetectable when viewing the film today, it is Peter Sellers who provides Bogart's voice during some of the scenes in this movie. However this cannot be confirmed.
John Huston was star/producer Humphrey Bogart's first choice to direct. However, Huston had some scheduling conflicts - he was due to make a movie with Katharine Hepburn (which was never made, as Hepburn graciously stepped aside to help out Huston), not to mention that he had to finish his then-current project Moulin Rouge (1952). Nicholas Ray, who Bogart had worked with twice before, was considered to direct in case Huston could not finish in time.
Either the writer or the director was playing an inside joke by naming two of the characters 'Chelm'. Chelm, in Yiddish folklore, refers to a village in eastern Europe that is ruled by the "wise fools".
William Styron's second novel, "Set This House on Fire", describes a film crew on location - obviously based on director John Huston and gang during the shooting of this film. The town in the novel is Ravello on Italy's Amalfi Drive, where most of the film was shot.
The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.
Humphrey Bogart challenged Truman Capote to an arm wrestling bout and lost. When Bogart challenged him a second time, Capote insisted they wager $50, which the writer won by defeating the actor again. After a third match - and another victory for Capote - the evening degenerated to full body wrestling and Capote again reportedly was triumphant. "He put Bogie on his ass," John Huston later said. "He was a little bull."
John Huston wrote in his autobiography that after he read the novel, he persuaded Humphrey Bogart to buy the film rights. The purchase was made through Bogart's Santana Pictures, Inc. Romulus Films, Ltd., the British company with which Huston had worked on The African Queen (1951) and Moulin Rouge (1952) then entered into a partnership with them. That group then created a co-production arrangement with Italian producers. Santana's financial obligation of $400,000 covered the salaries of Bogart, Jennifer Jones and Huston plus the cost of the screenplay to be written by Huston and Peter Viertel. Bogart reduced his normal salary of close to $200,000 to a lower amount.
John Huston couldn't stifle his laughter at the sight of the bloody-mouthed (but not seriously injured) Humphrey Bogart following his crash. He remembered Bogart muttering in response, "John...you dirty, no-good thun-of-a-bith!"
At one point in the film, Ivor Barnard's character is referred as the "galloping major". This is the title of a film from 1951, also made by Romulus Productions, and starring Basil Radford. The Galloping Major (1951) in this other film is a racehorse.
For years, debate has existed as to the intended aspect ratio of this film. Because its U.S. premiere was in 1954, it has long been assumed that the film was originally projected in a widescreen ratio and that all subsequent home video releases were panned and scanned (cropped) to 1.37:1. In fact, the film was made almost two years earlier, and was initially released in Great Britain in 1953, just as the widescreen revolution began.