Production designer Peter Jamison was having trouble finding the right kind of house to match Barry Levinson's exact specifications, namely a three-storey wooden structure with a little lawn, set back from the road, and in need of a new frame. Levinson told him to go to 4211 Springdale Avenue, Baltimore, which was the house where he grew up.
After becoming frustrated with professional performance in his 20s, Rodney Dangerfield quit comedy for several years, got married and moved to the suburbs where he claimed to have made a living as an aluminum siding salesman. According to "The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy" by Kliph Nesteroff, Dangerfield was, in fact, a real life "tin man" and was investigated by the FBI for unethical, fraudulent sales practices; which was even reported in the newspaper under his birth name (Jake Cohen) and initial stage name (Jack Roy). Although he avoided jail time or sentencing, Nesteroff speculates that his return to comedy and name change were both at least partially motivated to distance himself from the investigation.
The second film in writer-director Barry Levinson's series of four "Baltimore Films" . The others are Diner (1982), Avalon (1990) and Liberty Heights (1999). However, Allmovie states that Tin Men (1987) is "the second [film] of director Barry Levinson's Baltimore Trilogy (the first was Diner (1982), the third Avalon (1990)".
The bar/restaurant scenes were filmed in the Westview Lounge near Baltimore. During a break in production, Danny DeVito and Richard Dreyfuss gave each other hair cuts in the back parking lot of the restaurant. The restaurant has since been sold and torn down. It is becoming a Walgreens.
Some movie posters for this film featured a long blurb that read: "The Year - 1963. Selling the American Dream is a risky, funny business - you could wind up paying with your wife!".
The exterior for the Life Magazine scam scene was writer-director Barry Levinson's childhood home in Baltimore.
The Diner where the 'tin men' regularly eat has aluminum siding but in the second chapter it is being renovated (meaning: progress/change) by overlaying a brick and mortar facade.
One of a number of movies that actor Richard Dreyfuss made at the Walt Disney film studios during the 1980s under the studio's Touchstone Pictures banner.
The movie featured quite a number of Cadillac cars. According to the IMCDb, these included such Cadillac makes and models as a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz, 1958, 1959 and 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritzs, 1961 and 1963 Cadillac Coupe DeVilles and a 1960 Cadillac Series 62.
The meaning and relevance of this film's "Tin Men" title refers to a slang colloquial expression that refers to door-to-door aluminum siding salesmen.
The favorite television show of Ernest Tilley (Danny DeVito)'s partner Sam (Jackie Gayle) was Bonanza (1959).
Actor Michael Tucker played the same character of Bagel that he had portrayed in Barry Levinson's earlier film Diner (1982) around five years earlier.
The second feature film in which Barry Levinson acted as both sole writer and director.
This is one of the few movies from the late 1980's where Richard Dreyfuss does not sport his trademark mustache.
One of three 1987 movies starring actor Richard Dreyfuss first released in that year. The other pictures were Nuts (1987) and Stakeout (1987).
The number of songs performed on the movie's soundtrack by the Fine Young Cannibals totaled to four. They were "Good Thing", "Social Security", "Tell Me What", and "Hard as It Is".
Both of this 1987 movie's two top billed leads, Danny DeVito (2nd) and Richard Dreyfuss (1st), both had starred in a film opposite actress Bette Midler the previous 1986 year, in Ruthless People (1986) and Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986) respectively. Moreover, third billed Barbara Hershey acted opposite Midler the following 1988 year in Beaches (1988). Bette Midler though does not appear in Tin Men (1987).
Bill Babowsky (Richard Dreyfuss)'s nickname for Ernest Tilley (Danny DeVito) was "Mr Banana Head". Ernest Tilley (Danny DeVito)'s nickname for Bill Babowsky (Richard Dreyfuss was "Little Lord Fauntleroy".
Star Billing: Richard Dreyfuss (1st), Danny DeVito (2nd) and Barbara Hershey (3rd).
The picture's Tin Men (1987) title inadvertently, unintentionally, and unavoidably referenced the famous "Tin Man" character, who was portrayed by Jack Haley, from MGM's classic musical The Wizard of Oz (1939), which had been made and released around forty-eight years earlier, almost half a century.
As with his earlier film Diner (1982), according to the Virgin Film Guide, director Barry "Levinson again . . . uses a diner setting in which his characters are allowed to engage in some rambling dialogue".
The main character in this movie and the 1959 film Jet Storm share the same name: Ernest Tilley.
Bruno Kirby, J.T. Walsh, Richard Portnow and Ralph Tabakin all appeared in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), also directed by Barry Levinson.