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Working titles for the film were The Pastel Penitentiary and The House of Numbers. In a scene preceding the opening credits for the film, prison inmate "Arnie" throws a guard over the railing outside a row of prison cells, causing the guard to fall several stories to the ground. This crime is alluded to throughout the story as the prison warden waits for the guard to regain consciousness and identify his attacker. In the opening credits for the film, a hand enters the screen and stamps the superimposed titles for each credit on the screen. The following statement also appears in the credits: "Grateful acknowledgement is made to the state of California Department of Corrections, Richard A. McGee, director; to Warden Harley O. Teets and to the officers and inmates of the San Quentin Prison who appear in House of Numbers." Following the opening credits, a voice-over narrator introduces the San Quentin Prison and the basic story line of the film.
According to a March 5, 1956 Hollywood Reporter article, M-G-M purchased Jack Finney's The Pastel Penitentiary in 1956 and assigned Pandro S. Berman to produce; however, Berman was later replaced by producer Charles Schnee. House of Numbers marked the motion picture debut of actress Barbara Lang. Portions of the film were shot at San Quentin Federal Penitentiary and areas near San Francisco.