The film was meant to star Marlon Brando. He wanted a study of Edwin's tragic life (a career ruined by the assassination), not clips of classical plays. Brando later said, "When Fox couldn't get a top-rate actor like Laurence Olivier or me, they settled for . . . a third -rate performer with even worse skin."
Anti-slavery activist John Brown figures in this film and is seen in silhouette in a jail cell in one scene. Raymond Massey, who plays Junius Brutus Booth, played Brown in Seven Angry Men (1955), .which was made the same year as this film. He'd also played Brown in Santa Fe Trail (1940) in 1940, the same year he played Abraham Lincoln. in Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940). In real life, John Wilkes Booth was a witness at the 1859 hanging of John Brown.
Raymond Massey plays Junius Brutus Booth, father of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln. Massey himself played Lincoln in Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940) and How the West Was Won (1962). Additionally, Ian Keith, who appears as the Ghost of Hamlet's Father in a "Hamlet" scene, played Booth in D.W. Griffith's film, Abraham Lincoln (1930).
After watching the movie on TV in 1971, Richard Burton wrote in his diary, "I remember the high hopes I had of that film and my disappointment at its indifferent reception. The original script by Moss Hart was very good when I agreed to do it but a year later when I actually did it had been murdered by [Fox boss Darryl F. Zanuck] and his hacks. Some of it was salvageable, however ,which accounts for what little success we had. It seems to me that I was outrageously pretty in those days and much prefer my present hard and ravaged countenance." (Hart is the only credited writer.)