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This film's working titles were The Chair for Martin Rome and The Law and Martin Rome. Although early January Hollywood Reporter production charts list James B. Clark as film editor, the extent of his contribution to the released film has not been determined. According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, the studio purchased rights to Henry Helseth's novel The Chair for Martin Rome in March 1947 for $22,500. A first draft screenplay by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer was ready by early June 1947. John Monks, Jr. contributed additional drafts, but the final draft was the same as that turned in by Richard Murphy in early December 1947. The extent of the contribution of the earlier writers to the released film has not been determined. In the novel, neither of the principal male characters was of Italian ancestry. The police lieutenant was named "Saul Mendel," while "Martin Rome's" ethnicity was unspecified although he was described as a tall, blonde guy with blue eyes.
An undated studio press release in the AMPAS Library, probably from mid-1947, announced Lon McCallister in the role of the "baby-faced killer." At that time, the production was to be shot in San Francisco. According to another press release, Victor Mature and Richard Conte were originally cast in the other's role, but when it was deemed unwise for Mature to play another criminal, Conte, whose two previous roles had been highly sympathetic, assumed the hoodlum's role. Randy Stuart and Lisa Howard were originally cast as "Teena." Hope Emerson made her screen debut in the picture. Although set in New York, most of the film was shot in Los Angeles. The hospital scenes, for example, were shot at Los Angeles County Hospital. However, in mid-March 1948, the production moved to New York for a few days of shooting on Sixth Avenue, Hester, Mott and Grand Streets. Additional New York filming took place near King and Houston Streets and in a subway station at Fourth Avenue and Eighteenth Street
The Call Bureau Cast Service and the studio's cutting continuity list characters played by Eddie Parks, Martin Begley and George Melford but they were not seen in the viewed, incomplete print. Various reviews incorrectly list the character portrayed by Betty Garde as "Mrs. Pruett." Two sequences included in the film's cutting continuity, but missing from the print viewed, feature Shelley Winters: In her first appearance in the film, she visits a photographic studio in an attempt to locate Madam Rose, who had been in show business, for Rome. Later, when Dr. Veroff treats Rome, he asks "Brenda" to get him some alcohol and she goes into a bar where a salesman tries to pick her up.
Early in June 1947, as the studio was about to release the film under the title The Law and Martin Rome, a Baltimore, Maryland attorney Morton E. Rome wrote to the studio, "It is my opinion that the showing of such a picture...would damage my own personal career and hold me up to ridicule....I have no desire to engage in litigation over this matter, unless I am forced to. If you are willing to change the name of the picture, I shall be happy to forget the whole affair." Studio inter-office correspondence reveals that, as exhibitors were reacting unfavorably to the current title, a decision was made to change the title to Cry of the City. Alfred Newman's score includes another re-use of his Street Scene theme.