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The working title of this film was Target. Although pre-production news items described Martin Goldsmith and Jack Leonard's story as a "forthcoming magazine serial," no evidence that the story was ever published has been found. Hollywood Reporter production charts list Vince Barnett as a cast member, but his appearance in the final film is doubtful. According to a May 1952 Los Angeles Examiner item, the film cost approximately $200,000 to make and was a "sleeper" hit for RKO. Reviewers praised the picture's tautness and imaginative camera angles. Many film historians consider The Narrow Margin to be one of the best pictures ever produced at RKO and a quintessential example of the film noir genre. For their work on the film, Martin Goldsmith and Jack Leonard received an Academy Award nomination in the Writing (Motion Picture Story) category. Peter Hyams directed Gene Hackman and Anne Archer in a 1991 Tri-Star remake of Goldsmith and Leonard's story, titled Narrow Margin.