The story line is based on Carrie Fisher's own life and battle with fame, family and addiction.
Debbie Reynolds reportedly wanted to play the role of Doris Mann, loosely based on herself. However, director Mike Nichols personally requested Shirley MacLaine.
Liza Minnelli reportedly told writer Carrie Fisher that the film resembles her own relationship with her own famous mother, Judy Garland.
John Cusack filmed scenes as one of Suzanne's friends in rehab who belonged to the Manson Family. His scenes were later cut.
The cop movie Suzanne works on, "LA Beat", is a reference to Fisher's Hollywood Vice Squad (1986).
When the doctor played by Richard Dreyfuss asks Meryl Streep's character out to a movie, she replies, "Sure, we could go see 'Valley of the Dolls.'" Valley of the Dolls (1967) marked one of Dreyfuss's first film appearances.
Exteriors of 'Doris Mann''s house were shot at home of actress Connie Stevens. Connie Stevens, like Carrie Fisher's mother Debbie Reynolds, was once married to Carrie Fisher's father Eddie Fisher. Stevens is the mother of Carrie Fisher's half sisters Tricia Leigh Fisher and Joely Fisher.
Towards the beginning of the movie, when Meryl Streep's character is in detox, she has a nightmare in which she is walking down a corridor between photos of various famous people who died of drug- or alcohol-related causes. The portraits are of Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, John Belushi, Billie Holiday, and Lenny Bruce.
The framed poster in Doris' house of Doris and a young Suzanne on the cover of LIFE magazine is a real cover shot of Shirley MacLaine and her daughter, Sachiko.
At the request of Mike Nichols, Stephen Sondheim wrote special lyrics to his song "I'm Still Here" for Shirley MacLaine to perform.
Lana Turner was reportedly very offended after seeing this film, specifically objecting to a line which compared her mothering skills to those of Joan Crawford.
Janet Leigh greatly wanted to play the role of Doris Mann with her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis as Suzanne Vale.
Debbie Reynolds beat out Shirley MacLaine years before for the title role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964).
In the scene where Suzanne and Doris meet with the agent, a picture of Carrie Fisher is hanging near the center of a group of portraits on the wall.
In 2016, Vulture reported that in Debbie Reynolds's autobiography, she said that when she asked Mike Nichols for the role of Doris Mann (which was based by Reynolds's daughter, Carrie Fisher, on Reynolds herself), Nichols said she wasn't right for the part.
Cast mates Shirley MacLaine and Annette Bening would become sisters-in-law a few short years later, when Bening married MacLaine's brother, Warren Beatty. Beatty had appeared in Carrie Fisher's first film, Shampoo (1975).
Although Meryl Streep did her own singing for this movie, she did not repeat her performance of Shel Silverstein's Oscar-nominated song "I'm Checkin' Out" at the Academy Awards ceremony because she was very close to giving birth to her fourth child. Country star Reba McEntire performed the song at the ceremony instead, despite the fact that eight of her friends and band members had died in a plane crash just a week and a half earlier. "I'm Checkin' Out" did not win Best Song that year; the song that won instead was "Sooner or Later" from Dick Tracy, which had music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim had also created specially tailored lyrics for his Follies song "I'm Still Here" specifically to be sung by Shirley MacLaine in Postcards from the Edge.
In a scene from early in the movie, Lowell is dressing down Suzanne for her drug use on set, and the film crew are clearly seen nearby. One of the crew is wearing a crew shirt from "Evil Angels," the Australian title of A Cry in the Dark, which starred Meryl Streep.
Jerry Orbach worked 3 days on the film as Suzanne's father who climbs up a tree outside her upstairs bedroom to secretly visit her. Those scenes were all cut from the film.
The band accompanying Meryl Streep at the end of the film is Blue Rodeo, one of the most popular and respected rock groups in Canada, who were virtually unknown in the US at the time of the film's release. After hearing their music being played in a limo, by the driver, Streep wanted them to contribute to the soundtrack.
Suzanne Vale also appears in the sequel novel, The Best Awful There Is, later shortened to simply The Best Awful. That novel was based on Fisher's break-up with Bryan Lourd after he came out as gay.
In the novel, the mother is a very minor character, barely mentioned in a total of about 10 pages.
The actor Suzanne is tied to the cactus with introduces himself to her as Robert N. Munsch, the children's book author.
The film cast includes four Oscar winners (Shirley MacLaine, Richard Dreyfuss, Meryl Streep, Gene Hackman) and two Oscar nominees (Annette Bening and Rob Reiner).
Carly Simon's film score was recycled from her 1990 song "Have You Seen Me Lately".
This was Carrie Fisher's first attempt at writing a screenplay. Mike Nichols encouraged her to study the Vincente Minnelli film The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) for inspiration.
Jack Faulkner (played by Dennis Quaid) drives a Jeep with a license plate number "OU812Y." Phonetically, that's "Oh you ate one too why."
This adaptation is very different from the novel which is told in a non-linear style, using multiple narrators. The film tackles the subject matter in a more conventional manner.
Lee Remick was initially considered for the mother role. Her illness with the cancer that would ultimately kill her put paid to that idea.
The song Meryl Streep sings at the ending "I'm Checking Out" was written by Shel Silverstein, the famed and noted author of "The Giving Tree", ":Sara Cynthia Sylvia Stout", and other books, stories poems and songs. This is not to be confused with "Heartbreak Hotel", which was written by Mae Boren Axton and was performed by Elvis Presley; although Silverstein's song does contain a reference to a "Heartbreak Hotel."
Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the 500 movies nominated for the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
Shirley MacLaine had actually met Joan Crawford back in 1964 when Maclaine was filming John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! (1965). Crawford happened to visit the film's set which was on the Fox lot and she and Maclaine (in costume) posed together for a photographer. In a strange twist, many decades after Crawford's adopted daughter wrote an unflattering tell all about her, Maclaine's very own daughter Sachi followed suit and wrote one about her mother. But while Joan Crawford was not alive to defend herself Maclaine dismissed her daughter's as 'virtually all fiction'.
In the ABC News show "20/20 (1978)" aired shortly after the deaths of Reynolds and Fisher, Debbie Reynolds is reported by an editorial director for "People" and "Entertainment Weekly" as stating that she was not like Doris Mann, as portrayed by Shirley Maclaine, deeming that woman to be sort of angry, while Reynolds considered herself to be very sunny. Also, in the "Orlando Sentinel", she claims that she doesn't drink vodka for breakfast, and never crashed her car into a tree.