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An early working title for the film was The Life of Johann Strauss. According to contemporary news items, M-G-M originally had planned to make the picture in late 1935 or early 1936. In early 1935, it was announced that Dmitri Tiomkin was doing advance music work for the film, and a short time later, Nelson Eddy was announced as the lead. Joseph L. Mankiewicz was initially announced as the film's producer. Several possible leads other than Eddy were considered in 1935, among them Francis Lederer, Brian Aherne, Clifton Webb and Fredric March. After more than a year of preparations, however, in November 1935, M-G-M announced that they were postponing the project to wait for the "right" operatic lead. In the released film, the male lead, Fernard Gravet, does not sing. The only singing done by his character was dubbed by two baritones. Backgrounds for the film were shot on location in Chino, CA, under second unit director Richard Rosson. This was the only American film of Polish soprano Miliza Korjus, and the last American-made film for almost thirty years for Ferdinand Gravet, who returned to France in 1939. According to modern sources, portions of the film were directed by Josef von Sternberg.
Cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg received an Academy Award for his work on the picture. The film was nominated for two other Academy Awards-Best Supporting Actress (Miliza Korjus) and Best Film Editing (Tom Held). A 1934 British film entitled Waltzes from Vienna, starring Jessie Matthews and Edmund Gwen, and the 1963 Disney film The Waltz King, directed by Steve Previn and starring Kerwin Mattews and Brian Aherne were also inspired by the life of Johann Strauss II.