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The following written prologue appears after the onscreen credits: "Sixty years ago in any seaboard town, city or settlement east of Suez, at sometime or another you might have met Joseph Conrad, a Pole by birth, a seaman by choice and a writer by chance. Because he knew the ways of the human heart were as many and as devious as those of the sea, which he loved, Conrad became one of the greatest storytellers. This is one of his stories." Scenes with Robert Harris as "Joseph Conrad," telling the tale of "Laughing Anne" to friends, are interspersed throughout the film. The real Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), who was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, worked as a sailor aboard English ships for over fifteen years and eventually became a captain and a naturalized British citizen. In the 1890s, he left the sea and concentrated on writing. His short story "Because of the Dollars," which was published in the collection Within the Tides: Tales in 1915, became the basis of his 1923 two-act play, Laughing Anne. The performance dates of the play, which was published in London, have not been determined.
The film Laughing Anne, which was based on Conrad's play, was the first of three films to be completed under a production-distribution pact between Republic Studio president Herbert J. Yates and the British producer Herbert Wilcox and actress Anna Neagle of Wilcox-Neagle Productions. The film marked the first to combine Technicolor and a widescreen process. A May 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item announced their decision to co-produce a series of color films in London using British and American casts. Although the item reported that an original screen story was being written for the first film, which would star Neagle and John Wayne, and that an adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's The King's General would follow, Laughing Anne was made first. Interior scenes were shot at Shepperton Studios in London. According to a November 1953 Variety news item, columnist John Harvey of the British publication Reynolds News accused Joseph I. Breen, head of the MPAA, of bias against British films being shown in the U.S. As evidence, Harvey noted that the MPAA approved the "shocking," American-made House of Wax without change, yet demanded several cuts from Laughing Anne.