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The working title of this film was Illusions. Lee Garmes's onscreen credit reads: "Associate Producer and Director of Photography." According to a Hollywood Reporter news item dated April 16, 1941, Lydia had a budget of over $1,000,000. Hollywood Reporter news items published during production add Gertrude Hoffman, Paul Everton, Robert Greig and Tyler Brooke to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Correspondence dated July 9, 1941 and contained in the file on the film in the MPPA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicates that PCA officials refused to approve the original script because Lydia did not suffer enough for her actions. According to a Variety article dated July 30, 1941, the ending of Lydia was changed in order to comply with the Hays Office demand of "moral compensation" for Lydia's wrongdoing. Producer Alexander Korda was quoted as claiming that the new ending suggested by PCA officials, in which Richard fails to recognize Lydia, was an improvement over the original.
Although a Hollywood Reporter news item dated April 10, 1941 reported that Lydia marked French director Julien Duvivier's American directorial debut, he had previously directed M-G-M's The Great Waltz in 1938 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.1727), and returned to the United States again after the German invasion of France. Reviewers noted similarities between Lydia and Duvivier's 1937 film Un carnet de bal (released in the U.S. as Dance of Life), both of which feature an older woman looking back on the suitors of her youth. Bosley Crowther of New York Times, in a review dated September 19, 1941, compared the film unfavorably to its predecessor, stating that it only "faintly parallel[ed]" the earlier film. Miklos Rozsa received an Academy Award nomination in the Music (Music Score of a Dramatic Picture) category.