powered by AFI
The working titles of this film were The Hangman and Hitler's Hangman. Variety reviewed the film as Hitler's Hangman. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, when writers Emil Ludwig and Albrecht Joseph registered their unpublished story, which was based on another unpublished story by Bart Lytton, for copyright, it was titled "Victims Victorious." Hollywood Reporter also reported that, in June 1942, the MPAA banned the use of the title Hitler's Hangman, though the reason for the ban was not stated. The film opens with a verse from Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem "The Murder of Lidice," spoken by an offscreen narrator. Other lines from the poem are spoken during the film, and the poem's closing verse is heard at the end of the picture. Millay's poem was first heard in a radio broadcast on October 19, 1942 and was published the same year. Screen credits note that it was published by Harper & Brothers.
As depicted in the film, the Czech village of Lidice was destroyed on June 10, 1942, in retaliation for the assassination of Gestapo overlord Reinhard Heydrich. According to Hollywood Reporter, October 25, 1942 was declared Lidice Memorial Day in the U.S. and other United Nations countries. A Paramount Victory short, We Refuse to Die, which dramatized the Lidice massacre, was released on the same day, after a 12 October premiere in New York. (For more information about Heydrich and his assassination, for Hangmen Also Die!.) The Czech national anthem, "This Is Forever My Home," is sung in part in the film.
Hollywood Reporter news items add the following information about the production: Czech-born Francis Lederer was first considered for the role of "Heydrich," and Frances Farmer was considered for the role of "Jarmila." Helene Thimig was announced as a cast member, but did not appear in the completed picture. Half of the film's $300,000 budget was supplied by German refugee Irving D. Berttauer, and the other half was provided by Peter R. Van Duinen, the Bank of America and others. When production began, Angelus Pictures, an independent company headed by Seymour Nebenzal, had yet to secure a distributor. In October 1942, Republic Pictures optioned the picture, but in early February 1943, a month after the option had expired, M-G-M purchased a seven-year distribution lease on the film. Republic protested the lease, and an arbitration hearing between Republic and M-G-M was held in April 1943. The disposition of that hearing is not known, however.
When M-G-M took over as distributor, added scenes and retakes were ordered, and a new writer was brought in. Added material included Heydrich's deathbed scene with "Himmler" and university scenes featuring M-G-M starlets, including Ava Gardner. Mary McLeod and Leatrice Joy Gilbert were announced as cast members in the university scenes, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Sven Hugo Borg and Peter Michael were also cast in added scenes, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Hobart Cavanaugh and Nana Bryant are listed as cast members in early production charts, but their appearance in the final film is doubtful. According to the New York News review, the release of Hitler's Madman was delayed in New York because of competition from the above-mentioned United Artists film, Hangmen Also Die!, which opened nationally on March 26, 1943. According to an August 1942 article in PM (Journal), Vladimir Burban, a Czech minister in Washington at the time, would act as a technical advisor on the film, but the extent of his participation in the production has not been determined.