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In the film, Farley Granger's character makes up lyrics for a birthday song sung to the tune of "Frre Jacques." According to a 1951 MGM News item, Ricardo Montalban was originally cast opposite Jane Powell. Pre-production items in Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column list Peter Lawford, Van Johnson and Dean Miller (who has a small role in the film) as candidates for the role of "Rick Belrow Livingston." Hollywood Reporter news items also report that country western singer Hank Williams was to make his film debut in this picture, and that Robert Burton had been cast, but Williams was not in the film and Burton's appearance has not been confirmed. Granger was borrowed from Samuel Goldwyn Productions for the film. According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, two additional songs written by Nicholas Brodszky and Leo Robin, "You're Asking for It" and "Willie the Whippoorwill," were submitted for PCA approval but were not included in the film. The film received an Academy Award nomination for the song "My Flaming Heart."
Small Town Girl features two well-known dance sequences that are frequently discussed in books and included in documentaries on film musicals. The first is a dance solo, set to an instrumental version of "Take Me to Broadway," in which Bobby Van hops through town in what appears to be one continuous tracking shot. In the second number, "I've Gotta Hear That Beat," Ann Miller dances on a Broadway stage accompanied by an orchestra of disembodied musicians, whose instruments are played by hands that emerge from the floor and wall.
According to a 1955 news item in Los Angeles Examiner, producer Alexander Pall brought a $900,000 plagiarism suit against M-G-M, claiming that Small Town Girl had taken its plot from his original story, "Peaceville in Trouble." M-G-M made another film called Small Town Girl in 1936, based on a novel of the same title by Ben Ames Williams. Although the 1953 film is sometimes erroneously referred to as a remake of the 1936 film, they actually bear only a slight resemblance to each other.