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The viewed film was a reissued print and the above credits May not reflect the credits of the film's original release. Henry Stephenson's character is called both "Frederick Collins" and "Hebert Collins" in the film. According to a December 1938 Los Angeles Times item, Leslie Howard acquired the rights to Henry DeVere Stacpoole's novel and planned to produce an independent screen version of it in England. Howard planned to co-direct the production with Anthony Asquith, as well play the lead role. It is possible that this Stacpoole project was canceled after Howard and Asquith produced a film version of George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.5442) that same year. A March 1939 Hollywood Reporter news item states that RKO planned to produce their own version of the Stacpoole novel with Howard and Walter Futter acting as producers and Howard and Wendy Hiller playing the leads. Screenwriters Sam and Bella Spewack were signed to write the screenplay in June 1939, but the production was canceled due to the outbreak of World War II.
In April 1940, Lawrence Fox, president of General Films, revived the project at RKO in association with Futter. Fox's RKO project had a planned budget of $500,000, with shooting to begin in July 1940. A month later, Hollywood Reporter reported that Leslie Howard Productions made a deal with Geofrey Bernard of Grand National Films to produce his own version of the Stacpoole novel. It is not clear if Howard had somehow retained the rights to the novel, but his film was never made. After failing to sign both Cary Grant and Melvyn Douglas for the lead role, Fox moved his project to Universal, where Brian Aherne and Kay Francis assumed the leads and W. P. Lipscomb wrote a draft of the screenplay. Edward Ludwig was later signed in November 1940 to work on the screenplay with Lipscomb. Hollywood Reporter reported in January 1941 that silent film stars Charles Ray and Gertrude Astor were signed to the cast, and while they are listed in Hollywood Reporter production charts, their appearance in the final film could not be confirmed. Hollywood Reporter also reported the casting of Kathryn Adams and Holmes Herbert in the film, but their participation also could not be confirmed. The Man Who Lost Himself marked actor Nils Asther's first American film since 1934. Stacpoole's novel was first filmed under the same title in 1920 by Selznick Pictures Corp., starring William Faversham and Hedda Hopper, and directed by George D. Backer (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.2783).