The surviving print, preserved by the Library of Congress, and occasionally shown on TCM, is the post-Production Code re-release (bearing the re-release Seal of Approval), but since it runs exactly 1:28:40, apparently little alteration was made from the original, whose 1931 New York City opening was clocked at 80 minutes. However, on a couple of occasions, lines of dialogue have been obviously edited out that evidently failed to pass post-code regulations.
The entire tenement district set including the elevated station was built on the back lot of the United Artists Studio in Hollywood. If you look closely at the end of the street under the twin staircases that go up to the train station you'll see they used a huge painted backing to extend the street.
The play opened in New York City, New York, USA, on 10 January 1929 and had 601 performances. Eight performers in the movie originated their roles in the play: T.H. Manning, Beulah Bondi, Conway Washburne, John Qualen, Matt McHugh, Ann Kostant, Eleanor Wesselhoeft and George Humbert. The play won the Pulitzer Prize in 1929 for best drama.
This film was first telecast on New York City's pioneer television station W2XBS Wednesday 29 May 1940. It is one of over 200 titles in the list of independent feature films made available for television presentation by Advance Television Pictures announced in Motion Picture Herald 4 April 1942. At this time, television broadcasting was in its infancy, almost totally curtailed by the advent of World War II, and would not continue to develop until 1945-1946.
As the police are escorting Frank Maurrant (David Landau) toward the paddy wagon, in the crowd that is following them a man stumbles and falls causing two more people to fall on him.
This is the first complete film score of multi-Academy Award winner Alfred Newman. Newman composed the eponymous title theme, in the style of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. The theme has been used in other movies, including Cry of the City, Kiss of Death, I Wake Up Screaming, Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Dark Corner, Gentleman's Agreement and as the overture to How to Marry a Millionaire.
Except for one scene which takes place inside a taxi, King Vidor shot the entire film on a single set depicting half a city block of house fronts.