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According to an August 1932 Hollywood Reporter news item, Leonard Praskins was hired by M-G-M to adapt F. Marion Crawford and Walter Hackett's play. Crawford is given onscreen credit for her original novel, but not credited for co-writing the play with Hackett. October 1932 Hollywood Reporter news items announced first that John Lee Mahin was writing the film's screenplay, and then that Praskins was co-writing the script with credited writer Donald Ogden Stewart. The exact nature of these uncredited writers' contributions is not known.
In December 1932, Hollywood Reporter announced that Clark Gable had won the role of "Giovanni" from Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Leo Carrillo was first cast in the part of "Father Saracinesca," according to a Hollywood Reporter news item. Pre-production news items in Film Daily and Hollywood Reporter list Richard Bennett, Anthony Jowitt, Sidney Toler and Sidney Blackmer as possible cast members, but none of those actors appeared in the released film. According to modern sources, Gable wore a moustache for the first time in this picture.
Crawford and Hackett's story was first filmed in 1915 by Essanay. This silent version was directed by Fred E. Wright and starred Viola Allen and Richard C. Travers (see aboce). In 1923, Henry King directed Lillian Gish and Ronald Colman in an Inspirational Pictures version of the same story.