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According to documents in Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, the studio purchased all rights to Joseph Shearing's novel Moss Rose from Chas. K. Feldman Group Productions in September 1946 for $200,000. (Joseph Shearing was a pseudonym for the prolific English writer Gabrielle Margaret Vere Campbell Long, who also wrote as George Preedy and Marjorie Bowen.) Feldman had bought the novel, through Universal, in 1943 for 2,250. As part of the deal with Feldman, Fox also acquired several screenplay adaptations which Feldman had commissioned from Jules Furthman, Tom Reed, Niven Busch and Leonard Bercovici. Writer James M. Cain assisted Busch with his screenplay but was not credited. The studio also agreed to lend independent producer Feldman one of their contract artists for one picture to be made by the end of 1948. Feldman requested options on Jeanne Crain, whom he wanted for The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire, Maureen O'Hara, Victor Mature, George Montgomery and John Payne. In the end, due to scheduling difficulties, this part of the deal was not realized.
On September 19, 1946, in a memo to producer Gene Markey and director Gregory Ratoff, executive producer Darryl F. Zanuck, having endorsed Peggy Cummins as the female lead, suggested Cornel Wilde for the male lead, Ethel Barrymore as the mother and Reginald Owen and Henry Daniell as the policemen. In a memo written on the same day to the studio's executive production manager, Ray Klune, Zanuck stated, "I am sure you can get all your sets from what we had in Cluny Brown, the street you are now building for Forever Amber and perhaps some of the sets from The Late George Apley.... Some of the streets that we used in Hangover Square and The Lodger (which I am sure are still standing on the back lot) will be perfect for this subject." By October 1946, Zanuck was suggesting Charles Laughton for the role of Inspector Clinner. Fox borrowed Patricia Medina from M-G-M for the production. After principal photography was completed, several major revisions, additions and excisions occurred. Studio records reveal that the following players, listed in Variety and Call Bureau Cast Service, appeared in scenes that were cut from the released film: Victor Wood, Tom Moore, Harry Allen, Clifford Brooke, Stuart Holmes and Connie Leon. It has not been possible to confirm the participation in the released film of John Goldsworthy and Major Sam Harris. Although their roles were eliminated, they May be visible in the backgrounds of certain sequences. The Production Encyclopedia erroneously credits Edwin B. Willis, head set decorator at M-G-M, as set decorator. The significance of the killer's "signature," a moss rose placed on an open Bible, is not explained in the film. This device did not come from the novel, whose title refers to a dance which Belle performs.