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The working titles of this film were With This Ring, The Lie, They Call Me Patrice and I Married a Dead Man. Cornell Woolrich's story was originally titled "They Call Me Patrice" and was first published in Today's Woman magazine. He then published the story as a novel titled I Married a Dead Man under the pseudonym William Irish. In a modern interview, director Mitchell Leisen, stated that he wrote a screenplay based on the novel after turning down Sally Benson's initial screenplay. Leisen added that Catherine Turney wrote the opening of the film, and that he did not take screen credit because he was not a member of the Screen Writer's Guild. A script in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library confirms that Leisen contributed to the screenplay, but does not indicate the extent of his contribution.
According to a New York Times news item, Barbara Stanwyck's character was originally written as a prostitute. Although information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library does not confirm this, the New York Times article noted that the PCA refused to approve the script because according to the Production Code, a character portrayed as a prostitute would have to pay for her "sin" by death, and Leisen was not "willing to accept such a tragic ending."
Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection reveals that the PCA rejected the initial script in May 1949, after determining that "it has a very definite flavor justifying murder as a means of getting rid of a blackmailer." The PCA added the following in their letter to Paramount: "Your sympathetic leads are guilty respectively of deliberate attempted murder, and of seriously interfering with the process of justice, which misdemeanors they successfully conceal from the police." The PCA suggested that the producers "introduc[e] an important stronger voice for morality" and that they "rewrite the end...so that Helen and Bill definitely confess to the police their illegal activities, and have the police indicate that they will have to stand ready to face the consequences." Actor Lyle Bettger made his feature film debut in this picture.
Woolrich's novel was the basis for two other films: I Married a Shadow, a 1982 French production, directed by Robin Davis and starring Nathalie Baye and Francis Huster; and the 1996 Tristar release Mrs. Winterbourne, directed by Richard Benjamin and starring Shirley MacLaine and Ricki Lake.