Before filming started, Sir Anthony Hopkins scoured the bookshops of London's Charing Cross Road, trying to find a copy of the novel upon which this movie was based. He had no luck, went to catch a train home, and found a copy lying on a bench at the station. Years later, Hopkins met author George Feifer, who told him that he'd lent his own copy to a friend, who then lost it. Hopkins produced the one he'd found, and asked if it was Feifer's. It was.
While visiting Moscow, Russia doing research for this movie, director Robert Ellis Miller and screenwriters Alan Scott and Chris Bryant were not allowed to go to certain places, and the footage they had shot was confiscated by the Russian authorities.
The name of the book that Oktyabrina (Goldie Hawn) read in this movie was the "Training Manual for the Soviet Infantry".
The Austrian leg of the shoot in Vienna ran for about one week during November 1973, according to the November 20, 1973 edition of show-business trade paper "The Hollywood Reporter".
This movie was released three years after its source novel, written by George Feifer, was published.
This movie was originally going to be shot in Yugoslavia until right at the last minute permission for filming was revoked, and the production expelled from the country.
The production of this movie was moved to Austria after filming in Yugoslavia was banned.
Prior to this cold war comedy drama, Sir Anthony Hopkins (Kostya) had recently starred in two espionage movies based on spy novels, which were The Looking Glass War (1970) and When Eight Bells Toll (1971), from books by John le Carré and Alistair MacLean, respectively.
One of two theatrical movies featuring Goldie Hawn, which debuted in 1974, and which were produced by David Brown and Richard D. Zanuck. The other being The Sugarland Express (1974).
After this cold war politics romantic comedy drama, Goldie Hawn starred in the political comedy Protocol (1984).
The Russian word "Petrovka" derives its name from the Russian Orthodox monastery St. Peter's Monastery (a.k.a. Vysokopetrovsky Monastery) in the Bely Gorod district of Moscow. "Petrovka" is a Russian name that can refer to the name of several rural localities in the Russian Federation, but is also the name of a prominent street in downtown Moscow, Petrovka Street, where the St. Peter's Monastery is situated, upon which Petrovka Street descends downwards towards the Kremlin. Petrovka is also the name of a rural town in Russia's Sakha Republic region and is also the former name of a village in Leningrad Oblast in Russia.
The scene featuring Red Square and The Kremlin was a matte painting backdrop, as the production did not go to Moscow, Russia for filming.
Gorky Park was featured as a setting in this movie, but was not the real place, as this movie did not film in Russia. This movie was released nine years before Gorky Park (1983).
An article published in the October 18, 1972 edition of the "New York Sound" publication reported that director Robert Ellis Miller was attached to direct this movie, with the rights to the screenplay of the source George Feifer novel having been acquired by producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown.
Principal photography was originally scheduled to commence in Belgrade, Yugoslavia on September 29, 1973 according to the September 10, 1973 edition of "The Hollywood Reporter".
During the end of pre-production, without reason, Yugoslavian production company Inex Films cancelled its contract with Universal Pictures about two weeks before principal photography was scheduled to start at the end of September 1973, according to the October 15, 1973 edition of "The Hollywood Reporter".
Director Robert Ellis Miller, according to the September 21, 1973 edition of show-business trade paper "Daily Variety", believed that the reason Yugoslavian production company Inex Films cancelled its contract with Universal Pictures was because of political pressure from The Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.
Prior to Inex Films cancelling its contract with Universal Pictures, according to the September 21, 1973 edition of "Daily Variety", director Robert Ellis Miller stated that Inex Films had requested numerous re-writes of the screenplay.
When production in Yugoslavia was halted, several sets had already been built and the re-location to Vienna, Austria caused more than a month's delay in the start of principal photography.
An international law arbitration lawsuit, according to the July 23, 1976 edition of "Daily Variety", awarded Universal Pictures $508,000 U.S. in damages due to Inex Films cancelling its contract with Universal Pictures, causing the production to re-locate and move from Belgrade, Yugoslavia to Vienna, Austria.
One of this movie's production companies, KMA Productions, according to the October 15, 1973 edition of "Daily Variety", was owned by Goldie Hawn (Oktyabrina).
Goldie Hawn, according to author George Feifer, apparently gave up trying to read the source novel after a few pages.
London's "Sunday Telegraph" newspaper sent source novelist George Feifer to Vienna, Austria to cover the movie's filming, whereupon, according to Feifer, a production unit secretary allegedly scolded him when he reached for a copy of the production schedule. Feifer recalled the dialogue that ensued: "Who do you think you are?", "I...I wrote the novel", "What novel? So what?"
Source novelist George Feifer has said of the film's Yugoslavian shoot in Belgrade in an article entitled 'The Girl From Petrovka conveys the Soviet spirit in an American way' published on 8th August 2012 in the 'Russia Beyond' website: "All set for filming in Yugoslavia, its permission was canceled and crew expelled at the last moment because the Kremlin was in one of its periodic rages against Belgrade, which appeased it by abandoning its participation in an undertaking that was certain to offend the wholesome Soviet proletariat."
Contracted to the movie in the early 1970's, Anthony Hopkins was searching unsuccessfully in Charing Cross for an original copy of George Feifer's Novel, The Girl From Petrovka. Frustrated he went to Leicester Square tube station only to find a copy abandoned on a bench. Two years later while filming in Vienna he met George Feifer who told him he had no copy of his own book and had given his last copy to a friend who had lost it in London. Hopkins asked "is this it, with the notes scribbled in the margins?" It was Peifer's own copy. (Sunday Times, May 5th 1974)
The name of the title "The Girl from Petrovka" character is "Oktyabrina", and was portrayed by Goldie Hawn. Her last name is "Matveyeva", which is only spoken and not listed in the closing credits, making her full character's name "Oktyabrina Matveyeva".
The name of the U.S. newspaper, for which reporter Joe Merrick (Hal Holbrook) worked, stationed at its Moscow bureau, was the "Chicago Herald".
Mike Altmann (1) writes: "In his book, "The Improbability Principle," published in 2014, David Hand includes a fascinating story, reproduced below, of Anthony Hopkins' experience when planning to prepare for a film role offered him." "In the summer of 1972, the actor Anthony Hopkins was signed to play a leading role in a film based on on George Feifer's novel The Girl from Petrovka, so he traveled to London to buy a copy of the book. Unfortunately, none of the main London bookshops had a copy. Then, on his way home, waiting for an underground train at Leicester Square tube station, he saw a discarded book lying on the seat next to him. It was a copy of The Girl from Petrovka."