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A biography on James M. Cain notes that his story was inspired by a man named Clarke Fitzpatrick, an old friend, who wrote to him asking for his comments on a study that he had written about embezzlement within his insurance company, entitled "1001 Embezzlers." According to the biography, Warner Bros. bought Cain's story for $3,500 in January 1940 and hired Cain to work on the script. A March 15, 1940 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Cain and Fred Niblo, Jr. had "turned in the completed screenplay" of the film, but Niblo's contribution to the film has not been determined. In 1943, Cain's story was published in a collection of his serials entitled Three of a Kind. Cain's biography also notes that producer Bryan Foy, who attended early story conferences on the film, vetoed an early draft of the script because he felt that the Hays Office would never approve a story in which the heroine is married to an embezzler. According to an Los Angeles Examiner pre-production news item, Money and the Woman was originally set as a George Brent, Frances Farmer and Humphrey Bogart vehicle, with Kurt Bernhardt directing and Bryan Foy producing. Hollywood Reporter news items indicate that Brent, who was slated for the male lead, was replaced by Dennis Morgan, who was eventually replaced by Jeffrey Lynn. A May 2, 1940 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that actress Priscilla Lane, who was assigned to play the female lead, was suspended by Warner Bros. after she refused to take the part. Lane's agent reportedly told the studio that "the role is not one that she should be asked to do" and that the replacement of Brent with Morgan was a factor in her decision not to accept the assignment. Production work on the film was temporarily halted due to Lane's departure. The film marked Jeffrey Lynn's first star billing.