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Several late 1957 and early 1958 Daily Variety and Variety news items incorrectly reported that this film was based on an original story by screenwriter John Michael Hayes. As noted in modern sources, the lead character of Samson Raphaelson's original play, on which the film is based, was changed from a playwright to a producer at the request of star Clark Gable. Although a December 10, 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Kurt Kasznar had been signed for a "featured lead" in the film, he did not appear in the released picture. According to a December 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item, Barry Coe was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox for the production. As noted by reviews, portions of the film were shot on location in New York City.
In the film's opening sequence, "Russell Ward" makes telephone calls on the two mobile telephones in his car, which, according to a August 13, 1959 LA Mirror-News article, was a "local" joke about the two telephones that late producer Michael Todd reportedly had in his car. The article praised the many other "inside jokes" in the picture, including one about "popcorn `saving' the movie industry."
According to an September 11, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item, But Not for Me was the first film to be advertised on Jack Paar's popular late-night television talk show. The news item noted that Paar was "to participate" in the advertisements, and that Paramount had an option for exclusive use of the Paar show for the film's television ads, as well as an option for spots for future films. The picture's Los Angeles invitational premiere, held on October 6, 1959, was a benefit for the 8 Ball Welfare Foundation of the Los Angeles Press Club. But Not for Me marked the first film appearance since 1953 for actress Lilli Palmer.
Numerous reviews of the picture praised Gable, who was fifty-eight at the time of its release, for his comedic acting and willingness to be portrayed as a middle-aged man. Bosley Crowther, the New York Times critic, stated: "The quaint but refreshing thing about Clark Gable is that he is willing to act his age. What's more, he is willing to make jokes about it and let his script writers make jokes about it, too." The Hollywood Reporter reviewer did not concur, however, commenting that the film invited the viewer "to laugh at Gable rather than with him. It's a devise [sic] that's quite unnecessary, since Gable still has a rugged vitality and a convincing air of authority." The film received three Golden Globe nominations: Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical, Best Motion Picture Actor-Musical or Comedy (Gable) and Best Motion Picture Actress-Musical or Comedy (Palmer).
Paramount produced two earlier films based on Raphaelson's play. The first, directed by Wesley Ruggles and released in 1935, was entitled Accent on Youth and starred Sylvia Sidney and Herbert Marshall (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). The second, Mr. Music, was a 1950 musical directed by Richard Haydn and starring Bing Crosby and Nancy Olson (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). As noted in the Filmfacts review of But Not for Me, the play and the two earlier films end with the older man and younger woman continuing their romance.