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The working title of this film was That's Life. A Song Is Born is a remake of Samuel Goldwyn's 1941 comedy Ball of Fire . Some dialogue from the earlier film was reused in A Song Is Born. Mary Field portrayed "Miss Totten" in both versions. Will Lee, who plays a waiter in the remake, appeared as a gangster named "Benny" in the 1941 picture. Cinematographer Gregg Toland worked on both pictures, although W. Howard Green is listed in early Hollywood Reporter production charts as director of photography on A Song Is Born. According to contemporary news items, Harry Tugend adapted the script of Ball of Fire, which was written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, based on an original story by Wilder and Thomas Monroe, for A Song Is Born. An October 1948 New York Times article reported that Goldwyn originally intended to credit all four A Song Is Born writers, but after Wilder and Brackett asked the Screen Writers' Guild not to be listed on the remake, Tugend, who had disagreed with Goldwyn about the adaptation, also removed his name from the credits. Because Monroe chose to be credited on the remake, however, Wilder was compelled to include his name as a co-story writer.
Although a July 1947 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Carmen Miranda and her ten-piece rumba band, The Banda Da Lua, were reassembling for a part in the picture, they did not appear in the completed film. Modern sources note that Danny Kaye's wife, composer Sylvia Fine, who wrote most of Kaye's songs, offered to write three numbers for the film, to be performed by Kaye, but that Goldwyn did not want to pay the $60,000 she requested and replaced Kaye's numbers with instrumentals. In a modern interview, Howard Hawks stated that he directed the remake only because Goldwyn agreed to pay him $25,000 a week. Hawks also claimed that he was asked not to position "the Negroes and the white musicians too close together" during their scenes. According to a December 1948 Variety item, Lloyd T. Binford, head of the Memphis board of censors, banned the film in that city, complaining that "'it shows a rough rowdy bunch of musicians of both colors. It is supposed to be about the birth of jazz music in New Orleans. There is no segregation.'"