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The working titles of this film were Gangs of New York and It Might Happen to You. Gangs of New York was also the title of a 1938 Republic film, directed by James Cruze, that was about New York gangsters. Republic bought a novel by that title in April 1936 and some news items in late 1936 could be referring to either the 1937 film It Could Happen to You or the 1938 film Gangs of New York as both films were apparently known by the latter title during that period. According to the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the PCA rejected two early versions of the screenplay because they violated a resolution adopted by the PCA Board of Directors that prohibited portrayals of "the activities of American gangster armed and in violent conflict with the law, or law-enforcing officers." Once the gangster elements were removed and the violence toned down, the script was approved. A Hollywood Reporter news item reported that "sideline musician" Harold Sorenson died while working on the picture.