When Leo McCarey received his 1938 Best Director Oscar for The Awful Truth (1937), he reportedly said that he got it for the wrong film, a clear reference to his fondness for this film.
Paramount boss Adolph Zukor reportedly pressured Leo McCarey to alter the film's downbeat ending, but the director resisted, and his contract with the studio was not renewed.
Beulah Bondi was actually one year younger than Elisabeth Risdon, who played her daughter Cora.
Though they play elderly parents who have been cast aside by their children, Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi were only 61 and 49, respectively, when this film was made.
Leo McCarey was making The Milky Way (1936) with Harold Lloyd when he accidentally drank some contaminated milk and became so ill that he nearly died. This brush with mortality - and the recent death of his own father - made him want to make the film. McCarey in fact was so ill that he was unable to attend the funeral of his beloved father.
Leo McCarey spent almost a year making the film. He worked for a greatly reduced salary, refused to cast any stars and ignored Paramount chief Adolph Zukor's pleas for a happy ending.
French director Bertrand Tavernier's then wife, Colo Tavernier, was responsible for writing the French subtitles for its foreign release. She recalled that she found it extremely difficult to type up these subtitles as her eyes were full of tears.
Just before shooting began, The Hollywood Reporter noted that Fay Bainter replaced Aline MacMahon.
When he moved to Columbia, Leo McCarey found himself often at loggerheads with its notoriously difficult head, Harry Cohn. Whenever he went over budget or fell behind schedule on The Awful Truth (1937), Cohn would remind him of the commercial failure of Make Way for Tomorrow (1937). When The Awful Truth (1937) was released to great acclaim and excellent box office, McCarey led Cohn to believe that he would renew his contract with Columbia. But the day before they had agreed to sign, McCarey took out an ad in Variety announcing that he had just signed with RKO, the studio where he made two of his biggest hits, Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary's (1945).
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. It was released on DVD 12 May 2015 in multiple formats as part of the Criterion Collection.
The movie the grandmother and granddaughter go to see is Paramount's "Souls at Sea" (1937).
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.