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The working title of this film was In Old New York. According to materials contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, Darryl Zanuck originally wanted Henry Fonda to play the role of "Charles Brownne." Zanuck insisted that the film begin with Robert Fulton arriving in New York rather than with his boyhood as had been previously proposed. Zanuck also suggested that the character of "Brownne" be developed to break up the original love triangle between "Fulton," "Pat" and "Harriet." Fox story materials further disclose that Ethel Hill worked on a treatment, but her contribution to the final film has not been confirmed. Fox publicity materials contained in the Production Files at the AMPAS Library note that the film originally did not include any songs because Zanuck wanted to emphasize Alice Faye's acting abilities. A song was added however, after Faye's fans complained. The New York Times adds that studio mechanics used Fulton's diaries to build a replica of the two-cycle engine and paddle-wheel of the Clermont. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, Fox built three huge sailing ships and 25 smaller boats for this production. Another news item in Hollywood Reporter adds that cameraman Edward Snyder filmed background shots in New York. Fox borrowed Andy Devine from Universal for this film. In 1923, Goldwyn-Cosmopolitan produced a film based on Fulton's life, also titled Little Old New York, starring Marion Davies and directed by Sidney Olcott (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.3126).