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Working titles for this film were The Violent Hour and Standoff. Dial 1119 was the first feature-length film directed by Gerald Mayer. The title of the film refers to the telephone number, at the time, for the emergency services opertor. According to a September 1949 Hollywood Reporter news item, the picture, which was budgeted at $400,000-$500,000, was the first low-budget "A" feature to come out of M-G-M since Dore Schary became the studio's production head.
Contemporary reviews noted the central presence in the film of the television set and its important role in furthering the story. Considered somewhat of a novelty for most of the country in 1950, television broadcasting, as portrayed in the film, was both praised for its ability to bring live coverage of important events, and mildly criticized for its dull programming. The New York Times review features a quote from the film, in which the bartender, while watching a boring wrestling match, says that the television set "cost $1,400 and it's more trouble than it's worth."