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In the opening scene, when "Ernie" visits the tomb of the unknown warriors who died in World War I, a narrator comments that "Mott never dreamed that he May become the unknown warrior of World War II. This is his story, the story of Ernie Mott who searched for a free, a beautiful and noble life in the second quarter of the 20th century." According to a October 1943 news item in Hollywood Reporter, Alfred Hitchcock was initially slated to direct this picture. A July 1943 news item in Los Angeles Examiner notes that RKO studio head Charles Koerner bought Richard Llewllyn's book as a starring vehicle for Cary Grant. A New York Times article adds that in January 1944, Koerner suggested that playwright Clifford Odets direct the picture. This was the first film that Odets directed. He would direct only one other picture in his career, the 1959 film Story On Page One. According to an article in Hollywood Citizen-News, to secure the services of Ethel Barrymore, the studio had to pay all the expenses incurred by temporarily closing the play The Corn Is Green, in which she was starring on Broadway. A news item in Hollywood Reporter notes that the East End London road set in this film was the largest and most complete external set constructed inside a sound stage at that time. The set measured 800 feet long and extended the length of two sound stages. This was the last film that producer David Hempstead made for RKO before asking to be released from his contract because of illness. Barrymore won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in this film. The picture was also nominated for Best Editing and Best Score and Grant was nominated as Best Actor.
According to a 1947 New York Times article, Lela Rogers, the mother of Ginger Rogers, denounced the script at a HUAC committee hearing as a "perfect example of the propaganda that Communists like to inject" and accused Odets of being a Communist. Rogers cited the line spoken by "Ernie" to his mother, "you're not going to get me to work here and squeeze pennies out of little people who are poorer than I am," as an example of Communist propaganda. Hans Eisler, who was nominated for an Academy Award for composing the film's score, was also interrogated by HUAC and was designated as an unfriendly witness for his refusal to cooperate. Ethel Barrymore and June Duprez reprised their roles in a June 3, 1946 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast, co-starring Brian Aherne.