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The film's beginning and ending title cards are superimposed over a shot of a lion at the foot of a statue of Abraham Lincoln. The film ends with a quotation from Lincoln, reading: "You can fool some of the people all the time-and all of the people some of the time-but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." Although George Amy is credited onscreen as film editor, production charts list Walter Hannemann and Robert Seiter as film editors. Jeanne Cagney, who portrayed "Jennie Brown" in the picture, was the sister of actor James Cagney and producer William Cagney. Although she did not appear in the final picture, Priscilla Gillette was originally signed for the female lead, according to an April 1952 Variety news item. The following actors were added to the cast by December 1952 and January 1953 Hollywood Reporter news items: Nadene Ashdown, Doreen Corcoran and Lee Norrix. A December 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item also adds several silent film and vaudeville performers as extras in the courtroom scene: Hank Mann, Heine Conklin, Kit Guard, Bert Keyes, Ford Raymond, Frank O'Connor, Jimmie Dime, Nora Bush, Rose Plummer and Betty Bricker. The appearance of these actors in the final film has not been confirmed. Portions of the film were shot in the Florida Everglades, according to an October 1952 New York Times article. The same article stated that brothers James and William Cagney paid $250,000 to Adria Locke Langley, the author of the novel, A Lion Is in the Streets, in 1945 and over the following eight years, several writers worked on the script, including Charles Bennett. The film marked the last release of Cagney Productions, Inc.
According to Hollywood Reporter and Variety reviews, the novel was loosely based on the life of politician Huey Long (1893-1935), who rose from obscurity to become a governor of Louisiana and U.S. Senator, before his murder by an assassin. However, reviews note that the film departed from the novel. William Cagney, in the New York Times article, denied that the film was about Long, but rather about "the simplicity with which a demagogue can pervert the democratic system." Both the New York Times and Cue reviews commented that this theme was better served in the 1950 Columbia production, All the King's Men, which was directed by Robert Rossen and starred Broderick Crawford (see entry in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50).