Twenty-two-year-old Dame Angela Lansbury wanted the sympathetic part of the waif-like village girl Effie, but was forced to play Mabel, the thirty-five-year-old, shrewish wife of fifty-year-old Walter Pidgeon. This brought home to Lansbury that she would never be a star player at MGM. The role of Effie went to Janet Leigh, Lansbury's future The Manchurian Candidate (1962) co-star. In that movie, Lansbury again played an unsympathetic older woman, but would cite the part of Mrs. Iselin as her favorite movie role.

David O. Selznick bought the rights of the book in 1939. He intended on casting either Joan Fontaine or Vivien Leigh in the female leads and Leslie Howard or Sir Laurence Olivier in the male leads.

At one point, Robert Donat and Greer Garson were set to star, under direction of Alexander Korda.

This movie did poorly at the box-office for MGM, resulting in a loss of four hundred sixty-five thousand dollars (five million three hundred thousand dollars in 2017), according to studio records.

A contemporary news article reported that this was the first movie to be shot on the new, non-flammable Eastman safety film. Previously, film had been nitrate-based - stock that would degrade over time and was highly flammable.

This movie received its television premiere in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Sunday, December 2, 1956 on WFIL (Channel 2), followed by Seattle, Washington on Sunday, December 9, 1956 on KING (Channel 5), and by Chicago, Illinois on Monday, January 7, 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2). It first aired in Portland, Oregon on February 6, 1957 on KGW (Channel 8), in Phoenix, Arizona on February 11, 1957 on KPHO (Channel 5), in Hartford, Connecticut on February 14, 1957 on WHCT (Channel 18), and in Los Angeles, California on Friday, March 8, 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11). It was first shown in San Francisco, California on January 5, 1958 on KGO (Channel 7), but there is no record of it having been telecast in New York City, New York until June 28, 1958 on WCBS (Channel 2), nor in Minneapolis, Minnesota until May 31, 1959 on WTCN (Channel 11).

A Broadway play of the same title, also based on the same novel as this movie, opened at the Gaiety Theatre, 1547 Broadway, on April 2, 1923 and ran for forty performances.