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The Tunnel of Love was based on the successful Joseph Fields-Jerome Chodorov play and novel of the same name, although only Fields was credited onscreen. As noted in an Hollywood Reporter news article, blacklisted writer Chodorov's screen credit as a co-author of the original play was reinstated by the WGA in 1998. The Broadway production of the play starred Tom Ewell, Nancy Olson and Darren McGavin. According to the Daily Variety review of the film, the only major change made by Fields in his screenplay adaptation was an explanation that "Augie Poole" is not the father of "Estelle's" child. In the play, Estelle seduces Augie intentionally in order to get pregnant so that she might experience firsthand the plight of unwed mothers, the topic of her PhD thesis, which, as in the film, she reveals she is working on part-time.
An August 1957 Hollywood Reporter news items indicated that Glenn Ford was set to co-star with popular singer Doris Day in the film, but a November 1957 "Rambling Reporter" item noted that Ford had dropped out of the production because of commitments to two other projects. Day performs the title song, but does not sing within the film. The Tunnel of Love marked the first film directed by Gene Kelly in which he did not appear.