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The working title for this film was B.I.D.J. The Variety review erroneously claimed that this film marked the screen debut of Joseph Calleia, who had appeared in a 1931 film. According to Hollywood Reporter pre-release news items, actors Lloyd Hughes, Arthur Byron, John George, Monte Vandegrift, Sam Flint, Frank Rice and Harry Geise were included in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Some contemporary reviews note the parallels in this film to true crime stories of the time, including the slaying of John Dillinger in front of a motion picture theater. Motion Picture Herald notes the parallel with a San Quentin jail break in which members of the parole board were held hostage, and notes the existence of the real "Purple Gang." According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, the scene in which "Sonny" is "captured" at the movie theater was filmed at the Moralta Theater in Culver City. The actual Dillinger episode took place in Chicago outside of a theater showing M-G-M's Manhattan Melodrama. Public Hero No. 1 was remade in 1941 by M-G-M as The Get-Away. J. Walter Ruben, director of the original, produced the remake, which was directed by Edward Buzzell and starred Robert Sterling and Dan Dailey.