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In the film's title card, the initial article is presented in lower case. The film closes with the following written acknowledgment: "Twentieth Century-Fox acknowledges and thanks the generous cooperation of Mr. John Graham and the Department of Commerce and Public Events of the city of New York in the production of a Hatful of Rain." Although blacklisted screenwriter Carl Foreman was not listed in the onscreen credits, his credit for the film was reinstated by the Writers Guild in 1998 to add him to the list of credited writers. According to materials contained in the film's film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Twentieth Century-Fox bought the rights to Michael Vincente Gazzo's play shortly after it opened on Broadway. At that time, the PCA forbade the production of any film dealing with narcotics. In December 1956, in partial response to the controversy surrounding Otto Preminger's The Man with the Golden Arm (see below), the Production Code was revised to allow narcotics as an acceptable subject for film.
According to Fox publicity materials contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, a Hatful of Rain was the first of three films produced under the revised Code. Publicity materials note that in hopes of attracting a wider audience, the studio changed the location of the play from the slums to a housing project. The family in the play was depicted as lower-class Italian-American, whereas in the film, the family is working class, devoid of ethnicity. Locations were shot in New York City at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Housing Project on the East Side, and at the Brooklyn Bridge, according to studio publicity materials and a February 1957 New York Times news item. Henry Silva and Anthony Franciosa played "Mother" and "Polo," respectively, in the Broadway production of Gazzo's play. Franciosa was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor for his performance in the film. Actor William Hickey (1928-1997) made his motion picture debut in the film. On March 6, 1968, the ABC network broadcast a televised version of Gazzo's play, starring Sandy Dennis and Michael Parks and directed by John Moxey.