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The working title of this film was The Cannibals. In July 1953, a New York Times article reported that the title was changed "lest audiences come expecting to see an African adventure starring gorillas, chimpanzees and pygmies." The article noted that instead the studio would use the title Night People, which belonged to a property it already owned. [According to an April 1953 Los Angeles Examiner news item, the earlier property was a science fiction story written by Philip Dunne and was to star Richard Widmark. That project was never produced, however.] According to a June 25, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item, Gloria Grahame was originally cast in the film, which marked the directorial debut of producer-screenwriter Nunnally Johnson.
Several Hollywood Reporter news items reported that there was a great deal of friction between Johnson and Gregory Peck, and on September 9, 1953, an item in Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column speculated that Johnson, who was suffering from bursitis, would be replaced by Henry Koster. Studio production chief Darry F. Zanuck visited the set to settle the "discord," according to a September 10, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item, and production on the picture proceeded on schedule. Some modern sources suggest that the "discord" was merely a publicity ploy, however, and add that Peck, who had the contractual right to approve or veto the studio's choice of director, had approved Johnson as Night People's director.
According to studio publicity and contemporary news items, the film's exterior sequences were shot on location in Berlin, and interiors were shot at the Geiselgasteig Studios in Munich. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Writing (Motion Picture Story).